Byron Week Two and beyond… Ep 10

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you should see Felicity, Naomi, Grey and Emma

Day #69

Today was the day we said goodbye to Tyson, Talitha, Max and Banjo. They were headed back to cold wintry Adelaide. Jude took them to the Airport while the rest of us enjoyed a lazy morning. The girls were continuing on with their journals while Grey did his as well. Matt and Flic enjoyed their regular stroll to get their coffee and walked back looking through the vast range of shops in the main drag of Byron Bay. When Jude got home we had some lunch then went for a drive up the coast. We stopped at Lennox Head to admire the view. More surfers to watch for Matt, then we continued on to Ballina. The coastal drive from Byron to Ballina is really beautiful. It kind of reminded Felicity of Yorke Peninsula. From Ballina we made our way to a quaint little town called Bangalow. We had a lovely coffee with scones and a piece of Blueberry Cheesecake along with Baby Chinos complete with marshmallows for the girls. Next we had a quick look down the street. Felicity was excited to see a lovely jumper on a half price rack out the front of a shop…only to be disappointed to see it was still going to be a $150 purchase!

Day #70

Lucy & Emma on the Silvester Slide
Lucy & Emma on the Silvester Slide

Up early and at em as today we were going to Movie World. As we arrived there were already lots of people heading in. Unfortunately for us two of the main rides were closed today. The Green Lantern seems to be shut indefinitely and our favorite Arkham Mayhem (used to be the lethal weapon ride) was down due to maintenance as well. No stress as Grey, Naomi and Felicity lined up for 30mins for the Superman rollercoaster ride. AWESOME!!!! It was great. So so fast right of the bat. Naomi came off so hyped up saying that was the best ride ever!!! Definitely made Felicity feel adrenaline that’s for sure. The younger girls enjoyed Looney Tunes world, lots of rides that they could do. We lost count of how many times Emma did the Road Runner rollercoaster and Lucy the Tigger bounce ride!!! They all received their driver’s license at the driving school, so they all enjoyed driving their own little car around a little model version of Movie world. A whole shed was taken over with this model version, Lucy drove while Felicity rode the back of her car. The Wild West log ride still continues to go strong and continues to be a favourite among us all. Unfortunately they have changed the Police Academy show to a stunt driving show. Still fun to watch , but not as entertaining as the other show. Naomi and Lucy enjoyed having a dance with eh Looney Tune characters – Sylvester, Tweety, Bugs Bunny. All the children had the chance to do this. I take my hat off to them as they had so many children vying for their attention. One little boy just wouldn’t let go of Bugs Bunny at all!! From there we headed over to help the Justice League to fight starfish aliens. Here Matt, Felicity, Naomi and Emma were put in a carriage each equipped with a laser gun. Each alien we shot would come up on our counter. We were doing so well until about 5 mins into the ride when everything stopped and all the lights came on and over the radio came a voice saying that there was a malfunction and it would soon be sorted. 10mins later our carriage started over and the door opened and we were at the end of our ride… who shot the most aliens asks Emma???? We check our counters….0000 they say!! Great, all our scores got wiped when the ride shut down!!

The grand parade was at 3:30. We saw Batman, the Joker, Cat woman complete with whip, Austin Powers (who is that asks Naomi?), Looney Tunes characters and the Justice League – Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and Super girl.

Another quick go on all the Looney Tunes rides for a few last times and then it was time to head home after another fun day at the Worlds!!

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Family shot inc Peter & Julia

Day #71

Morning coffee at our Local, followed by a lazy morning before we headed to Brunswick Heads Hotel for lunch with Peter and Julia. We had a very nice lunch apart from the weather being very drizzly so we didn’t see much of the surrounds. As it was not the nicest weather we took the girls to see the new Minion movie in Byron Bay Palace Nova cinemas. The girls loved it so that was great.

Day #72

playing Klop on the beach
playing Klop on the beach

So today we were going to go back to Sea World for the day just to do things we didn’t get to do when we were there before. Naomi was feeling a tad under the weather in the morning so we decided to stay back home, which is good in hind sight because we needed to pack up ready to leave tomorrow. Felicity wasn’t really looking forward to being back in the van and having to walk outside to go to the toilet!!! We ended up heading to Watego Bay for lunch. Jude made up some wraps and we enjoyed them while sitting watching the surfers and the pods of dolphins that were constantly at the back of the waves. Some were even jumping high out of the water which was really cool to see.

Day #73

Where does the painting start?
Where does the painting start?
Chilling in the waveless wave pool
Chilling in the waveless wave pool

So pack up the van day had arrived. After two weeks in this place it was hard to leave. We felt really relaxed here and thoroughly enjoyed our time with Jude and Grey, especially the girls who will miss jumping on Nanny and Papa each morning and getting porridge made for them. After saying our farwells to Nanny & Papa we left at around 10am and headed back to the Gold coast. We still had one more theme park to do. We dropped of the van at Treasure Island Big 4 (we stayed there on our way down), ate our lunch in the car and arrived at White Water World at 12:30. The park closed at 3pm so we didn’t have heaps of time, so we definitely made use of the time there. This park is next to Dreamworld and is like Wet n Wild but not as big. Felicity and Naomi went down most of the slides!! Their favourite one was the Supertubes hyrdocoaster as it was like a rollarcoaster/water slide mixed together. Emma joined in on this too, so it was fun that all three of us could join in the fun. Matt went of to Wiggles Bay with Lucy and watched her have fun on those slides and swim in the heated pool. Naomi was disappointed though because she couldn’t do the Big Bro slide cause she wasn’t tall enough! She also enjoyed (too much) watching Mum scream as she went backwards through dark tunnels on the slides! There were 2 things that Felicity didn’t really enjoy with most waterslides…. 1/going backwards, 2/being in the dark…so when these happened Naomi was super excited. Once again there were hardly any people there so the line-ups were non existent but it was a bit chilly!!

Day #74

One of the reasons we came back to the Gold Coast is so that we could do Sea World again (as our pass we bought was valid for 28 days) and also we wanted to take the girls to O’Reillys Rainforest. So today we went back to SeaWorld and did a few things we didn’t get to do the last time we were there. Matt and the girls got a photo taken with the Ninja Turtles…sadly though only 2 got out of the truck not 4 like there should have been!! Matt and Naomi then went to see the Dolphin show again, while Felicity, Lucy and Emma went to the Dora show, which we missed last time. They loved it, best show ever said Lucy. After our lunch we went to a Sponge Bob 3D movie and then Felicity and Naomi went on their favourite ride the Storm!! We travelled on the Monorail around the park to get back to the entrance, and then headed home. We enjoyed the fact that we only took 10mins to get back to our van instead if the 1hr/10min to get back to Byron Bay.

The Girls with a Male King Parrot
The Girls with a Male King Parrot

Day #75

We left the Caravan Park and hustle and bustle of the Gold Coast and headed up to O’reillys in the Lamington National Park. It took us about 1 hr to get there through very windy, one lane roads. Once we arrived there we headed straight to the bird feeding area. For $4 we bought some feed in a tray, then you go to the designated area to feed the King Parrots and Crimson Rosella’s. There were only two other people there when we arrived and all the birds were in the tree above them all. Naomi arrived and tried to coerce the birds to her tray. She did succeed and a couple of parrots came to eat and then it was on! Birds were landing on her hat/head/hand/shoulders etc. Emma not all keen, Lucy freaked out when a bird landed on her hat, so Naomi spent about 30-40mins easy feeding these birds. We then went on the tree top walk. That was fun, swinging high above the trees with only 6 people allowed per span of the bridge!! The drive down was fun, so glad none of our children get car sickness that’s for sure. When we arrived back at the caravan park the girls headed straight for the pool. It was around 5ish when we arrived back so they were thrilled when it got dark and the pool lights turned on in the water and it was all lit up. After dinner they headed to the Under the sea disco which the kids club had put on. They loved dancing from 6:15 – 8pm!! They made heaps of friends and enjoyed winning prizes for limbo etc.

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The Mullers!

Day #76

Today we left Treasure Island Big 4. We actually enjoyed a buffet brekky before we left and while we packed up the van, the girls watched a Pirate Magician in the Kids clubroom. The kids program at this park was awesome. So much for them to do. Some free things and also some craft activities where you have to pay. We drove out at around 9:30am and headed to a place called Warwick to visit our friends Darren & Louise Muller. Darren was the youth Pastor at Aldgate Baptist just before we got married. Darren & Louise have three girls Emily (18), Rebecca (15) and Sarah (13). Emily was home from uni, so our three girls had an absolute ball with these three girls! From out walking the dog Charli, to filling up balloons with water and putting them in the bath and eating beautiful food. We spent the afternoon chatting and then next thing we knew it was dinner then we were all ready for bed.

Day #77

Apple Pie!
Apple Pie!

We spent another day at Warwick with the Muller’s. We ate pancakes for brekky and just relaxed watching Veggie Tales with the big girls. My girls really loved drawing pictures and coloring in with them too. After lunch Darren and Louise took us to Suttons’ Farm. Apparently they make the best apple pies in Queensland. And they were not kidding. They had run out of Apple pie slices, but had individual pies instead. They were served with cream and cinnamon ice -cream. YUMMY! We were the last to leave at 4pm just as they shut.

Day#78

We said goodbye to the Muller’s today and drove to a quaint little town called Inverell. When Felicity looked up this place on the Internet she noticed that you could do Sapphire fossicking in the area. So when we arrived in Inverell we went straight to the Information Centre to find out more. We asked about where we could do this and we were told about a place called Billabong Blue. Here we could fossick all day with everything included for $50. We stayed at a little caravan park in Inverell, the managers were lovely and told us they used to manage the Belair caravan park. They only charged us $42 for the night, which was great.

Lucy gets some soil (stage one)
Lucy gets some soil (stage one)

Day #79

We headed out to Billabong Blue and got there at around 9:30am. As we pulled up and went to the office, there was no one there. We could hear a chainsaw in the distance, so we thought we would head towards that as it seemed to come from the camp area. As we got back in the car and man showed up in a ute. His name was Bill. He took us down to the fossicking area and showed us what to do. First we had to shovel some dirt from a mound into our first sifter. From there we put the big rocks into a wheelbarrow and took the smaller stuff to a second sifter. Here you shake the pan again and get rid of the smaller stuff and then you head over to a water trough to wash away as much dirt as you can. This was a very cold thing to do! The water was freezing, and you had to make sure you had washed it really well otherwise you couldn’t see the rocks at all. From here you take the washed rocks over to a 44-gallon drum that had a hessian bag over the top. You flipped over the pan like you flip out a cake and then take some tweezers and take out your container and look for your precious rocks. If you did it right they should have been in the middle, staring you in the face, if not they were deeper down so you needed to look through your wash pile better. Once you completed these steps you start over again. We did this for the majority of the day. Naomi didn’t even want to stop for lunch or even have a break. She loved it. We all did actually.

Searching for the sapphires (last stage)
Searching for the sapphires (last stage)

We all found some sapphires and other rocks as well. We were told that this area of NSW was rich in precious stones. Just a few weeks ago a guy had been camping for 10 days in the camping ground. He would come up and fossick like we did in the mornings, and then in the arvo he would just go walking and kick over rocks as he went. He apparently found a big one kicking rocks and it was worth $10,000!!!! Apparently the guy said Felicity found a good one, which could have been cut, because you could see through it, and only ones you can see through are good for making things. What could Flic’s sapphire be made into… “A nose ring, ” came the reply! Not quite $10,000 worth though! Back home to the Inverell caravan park, night was pretty cold… -4 from memory!!! So glad we have a blow heater in the van. When we woke up there was ice on the car and the caravan’s birdbath was frozen over much to the delight of the girls!

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Dance Party
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Lucy Gets her drivers license
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Who is Austin Powers?

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Felicity, Naomi & Emma
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Felicity & Naomi
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The fish that killed Nemo’s mum
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Only two??? what a rip off!
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Bit of Byron Beach art…

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The exact seat where we fed the birds on our honeymoon! now we have three kids!
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Only 6 per span…

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Working the rocks for sapphires!

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seeing what our finds are “worth” on a mirror…
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All our finds sorted

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A week at Byron Bay (week 1)… Blog 9

IMG_0827Day #61

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Lucy and the lighthouse

We woke up to beautiful Byron Day. We enjoyed having a sleep in while Papa got the girls breakfast down stairs. Here in Byron we are staying at a place with an upstairs and downstairs area. We are all upstairs and Jude and Grey are downstairs, which means the girls head downstairs for Brekky. Thanks Grey!!! (Nanny stays in Bed gettings m’ms…muffins and marmalade!) Having breakfast on the balcony and watching the world go by was a lovely way to start the day. We walked down to the foreshore and had our coffee watching the surfers. There were lots of them that’s for sure. We walked back on the beach and the girls collected some shells. After lunch we headed for a walk to the Cape Byron Lighthouse. It is quite a long walk with lots of steps to the lighthouse so only Jude, Flic, Naomi and Emma walked both ways. It took about 45mins to get to the top where we met Grey, Matt and Lucy who drove up. It costs $7 to park for an hour, so we paid that and enjoyed a coffee over looking the beautiful coast. Grey joined us on the walk back, while Matt and Lucy drove home. Took a photo of the girls at the most easterly point of Australia. Apparently lots of whales are seen off this point, but we didn’t see any, except we did see lots of dolphins. The girls and Papa took a longer to get back due to the fact that the girls enjoyed doing all the exercises at the exercise stations on the walk.

Day #62

Off for our daily walk to get coffee and to watch the surfers! It was a little chilly and the waves were not huge, but still plenty of people out surfing what they could. We headed to the beach before lunch. It is so easy to get to the beach from our place, you head across the road to beach access path and your there. The girls went swimming….(to cold for us adults, we chose to take our seats and watch from the comfort of those). Flic tried her hand at metal detecting, but no treasures were found. Pete Tanner who is Jude’s cousin lives here in Byron. He joined us for lunch on the balcony. In the afternoon, the girls enjoyed preparing for their dance concert for the night. Pete and Julia were coming back to join us for tea so the concert was happening before dinner. The girls asked us all what our favourite song was so that they could do a dance to it. It was a great concert that’s for sure.

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Flic & Naomi

Day #63

After a few days of resting, Matt was feeling better. He was still a bit sore so when we hit Wet n Wild today he definitely took it easy. I think he only did one slide, the speed racer. And he only did that against Grey, Naomi and flic just to show us that he was still the fastest!!! Finished on top and that was enough! It was a drizzly day and (not peak season) so there were not many people there at all. One of the lifeguards actually said that when he arrived at work there were more cars in the staff car park than the actual car park. Naomi did all the slides she was allowed too do. She is definitely and water baby. She took them all in her stride, none were too fast. It was great having Grey there because he did the fast slides with Naomi!! The only slide Naomi couldn’t do was the aqua loop because she was not heavy enough. Grey and Flic did the Aqua loop though. Before we arrived at Wet n Wild Flic said she was not going to do the Aqua loop…..but she conquered her fear and did it! Just once, that was enough. Her face said it all. Nothing like being put in a coffin like compartment, being counted down 3, 2, 1, the floor your standing on comes away, then you find yourself free falling down a tube at a ridiculous speed, doing an inverted loop and then finally coming to an end in a white wash of water.

The wave pool was a hit with the girls too. The other part of Wet n Wild that was enjoyable was the whirlpool springs – spa baths!! Probably not enough time spent in these but that’s ok!! Jude actually did a slide too. Mammoth falls is what she did. After watching Grey, Flic and Naomi enjoy this slide (a giant inflatable tube which fits 4) slowly coming down the slide, Jude joined us for the next slide. She asked if she would get wet, we said not much as we didn’t really get wet. She chose not to put her bathers back on, so just wore her t-shirt and shorts. Well its amazing what having 1 more person in the inflatable tube does to the ride. We were going up high on the sides of the slide, water was coming in every where over the tube, Jude was screaming, Naomi was in hysterics laughing at Nanny getting wet. By the end of the ride Jude was the wettest out of all of us. Classic.

Day #64

Today was a very relaxed one. The girls drove to Ballina so that some new sneakers could be brought for the girls. Lucy was stoked as her new ones had laces so now she gets to learn how to tie them. When we arrived home Naomi, Jude and Emma walked to the lighthouse and back. Lucy and Felicity walked to the supermarket to get some food for dinner. Matt and Grey enjoyed a very lazy day.

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Kids charge around at Byron

Day #65

Grey was off early today to the Airport as he was picking up Tyson, Talitha, Max and Banjo (Matt’s brother and family). They were joining us here in Byron for 4 days. The girls were super excited to see them. After lunch we headed straight to the beach where the girls swam, made drip castles and built a swimming pool in the shallows.

Day #66

SEAWORLD….We all headed there with much excitement from the kiddies and the big kids too. Flic was our tour guide and made sure we didn’t miss a show. The dolphin show was first up! Most of us had seen this before and once again we were not disappointed at all. The girl’s faces lit up as they saw dolphins leap out of the water, trainers being lifted up and loved that the dolphins waved at them with their fins.

Photo Credit to Tyson.
Photo Credit to Tyson.
Priceless expressions on these faces!
Priceless expressions on these faces!

One of the dolphin trainers had been there for 18 years, spending each day with these dolphins. The good old log ride was a hit with the kids and oldies along with the storm which we all had a go on and maybe two or three more times!! Seal show was entertaining along with the Jet Ski Stunt show! We actually ran out of time today. There really was so much to see and do. We missed having our photo taken with “The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” much to Matt’s disappointment!! So we will be heading back here next week (on the same pass we have had).

Day #67

This morning it was great catching up with our friend James Williams. He used to live in the Hills and went to Aldgate Baptist church with the Bairds growing up and went away with them on many trips. He now is married and lives in Ipswich where he is a Fireman with MFS. He had just finished night duty and drove to see us in Byron. It was a quiet night for him, so he did manage to get some rest! After coffee and cake on the balcony, James got out his fireman outfit and the girls, Max and Banjo all took turns being a fireman. Helmet, pants, boots, jacket and gloves all were worn. After all the kids had a turn we went down to the beach before lunch.

Emma decked out to fight a fire
Emma decked out to fight a fire

Another beautiful day at Byron Bay, lots of surfers, swimmers and walkers were out on the beach. Our kids loved being in the water. Even Talitha got in today! She said it was warm in the water once you got used to it!! Pizza for lunch, followed by some Jet Pack making from the girls for Max out of all the cardboard cereal boxes and any other cardboard that was lying around.

Day #68

This morning we headed off to Eastgate Church in Byron Bay. They just happened to be having a kid’s service, which was great. The morning was all about fossils, dinosaurs and Noah’s flood! The girls really enjoyed it especially when they were talking about the Ice age they gave everyone in the congregation an Ice cream. And just not any ice cream but Cornetto’s!!!

For lunch we headed to Pete and Julia’s place in Suffolk Park (which is just a 10min drive from Byron Bay). He had cooked us a wonderful meal to which Naomi called it a “Buffet”! The apple and passion fruit pie was awesome…it was just a pity he didn’t make two!. After our lunch had settled and the coffee was brewing the table tennis table came out in the carport and what fun we had playing each other in doubles.

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waiting on the dolphin show
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Naomi with a dolphin
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Battle ships… a good way to get wet.
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Storm shot… yes thats Ty at the back with his hands up.
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Tyson accompanying Naomi in the skywalk at SeaWorld
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Talitha helping Emma in the skywalk
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Matt, Ty & Jimmy
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Felicity’s fave water slide… nice and slow!
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watching the dolphins… Naomi’s face is priceless!
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Talitha “Yarn Bombing” with the kids… breaking the law is a slippery slope, first up is yarn bombing, then a Meth lab!
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Talitha’s Yarn Bombing crew
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Worn out after SeaWorld
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Banjo & Lucy at the Stingray touch pool

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Definately heading south now… Ep 8.

Day #50

behind the tasting bar
behind the tasting bar

Today we headed off on a long journey, as we needed to be in Noosa in two days. We drove 5 hours (with stops of course) and made it into Gladstone by around 4:00pm. We found the shops and stocked up on a few supplies and made our way to the Gladstone city caravan park. The guy at the park did not charge us for the kids, which was very kind of him, so it only cost us $32 for the night. Cheers Gladstone City caravan Park! A highlight for the kids during this journey was playing the caravan waving game. Naomi and Emma drew up a tally board… non-wavers versus wavers and each time an oncoming van came towards us Matt would wave. If we got a wave back there were big cheers all round and a point to the Wavers, no wave and that resulted in a non-wave point. Definitely a great game to pass the time. By the end of our journey the wavers just beat the Non-wavers by 1. Friendly bunch those caravaners!!

Day #51

The Bundy Barrel
The Bundy Barrel

Today we were heading to Hervey Bay via Bundaberg really just to visit the Bundaberg Barrel. Both of us really like Bundaberg Ginger beer and thought it would be cool to see where it was made. And we were not disappointed. At the Barrel we were all given a self-guided walkey-talkey (just like the Daintree discovery centre), which the girls thought was great. We went through 5 different rooms, which told you all about the history of ginger beer and how it was made. The end was the highlight for all of us. We got to taste all 16 of there products. The girls were pleased as punch and enjoyed tasting each of them. The lady pouring us all the drinks was fantastic with the kids and really engaged with them, telling them all about the drinks and what flavors you would taste. For example Emma will now tell you that the Apple Cider smells like red apples but tastes like green apples and Naomi will tell you that the Pineapple/coconut drink tastes likes pineapple but when it goes down your throat you will taste the coconut. Felicity was pumped to hear that you can cook your corned beef in the slow cooker using a bottle of Ginger beer, plus baking cupcakes with the Bundaberg passion fruit drink, she is very keen to try both. Needless to say that the girls enjoyed coming away with their favorite drink each. We spent just one night at Hervey Bay. Didn’t really see much, but that’s ok.

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Rainbow Beach sand

Day #52

We left Hervey Bay around 9:30am and headed straight to Rainbow Beach. Matt remembers coming here when he was 12 with his family and seeing little jars being sold with the different coloured sand in them. The view from the beach was beautiful. The cliffs really do look like different colours. Not rainbow colours like you think, more different shades of brown, yellow, orange and white. We had lunch in the surf club overlooking the beach, which was lovely. Matt enjoyed watching bait schools get attacked by dive-bombing birds and being smashed by some bigger fish schools. After lunch we headed to a place called Carlo’s Blow out. From a carpark we walked about 10 mins to get to this place, which was a giant sand dune in the middle of scrubland. Whilst walking there some people were walking back with Body Boards under their arms. Naomi was disappointed that she didn’t have one to slide down the sand dunes too, but the girls made up for it by running down the dunes instead. We walked right down to the edge of this dune which looked out over the ocean. The girls loved playing in the two toned sand. White on top, but if you run and jump into it comes up brown. Very soft sand too. We were exhausted when we got back up the top of the dune (the girls not so much). No need for a gym workout today…

From here we drove about 1 and a half hours into Noosa, where the girls were excited as we were seeing Nanny & Papa (Jude & Grey) for the first time since we left. We arrived at the Big 4 Park, set up our van and set off for dinner at the Keys Resort where Jude and Grey were staying. As well as seeing Nanny & Papa we were all very happy to see our friends Ron and Julie Hogg arrive too. We are blessed to have them spend the week with us at Noosa too.

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Eumundi Market lunch… potato

Day #53

First up on our week in Noosa (with much enthusiasm from the boys) was a trip to the Eumundi Markets. These markets are huge and are only run on Saturdays and Wednesday’s. The car parking was crazy. So many cars! First point of call coffee, then really it was just stall after stall of different craft, jewelry, clothing, handbags etc. The girls each did a spin painting which look awesome and nanny bought them each a gift.

Day #54

Today we spent the day touring around the Sunshine Coast, checking out the sights of Coolum Beach, Mooloolaba, and Caloundra and on the way home we went to the Big Pineapple.

Ron & Julie
Ron & Julie

We enjoyed trying to find where we stayed on our honeymoon in Caloundra (we found it), trying our luck with the metal detector at Coolum and Dicky Beach (not so much to find except a rusty nail and a lead sinker really) and sadly the Big Pineapple was really derelict. No longer the tourist attraction it used to be. The girls really gave Papa Grey stick about his parking skills here too…just check out the photo!! We were the only ones in the gigantic car park too!!

Day #55

Today we spent the day around Noosa. We had brunch at the caravan park camp kitchen while the girls used the metal detector around the jumping pillow. They actually found $3.20 (and a US quarter)! They were stoked. Flic loved being able to have a coffee and cake with Julie by the Noosa River without the girls in the afternoon. For dinner Jude and Grey watched girls while we headed out to tea at Maries’ restaurant with Ron and Julie. It was an awesome dinner too. Beautifully cooked steak, and fish.

Day #56

Spotted Mackrel
Spotted Mackerel

Matt, Flic and Ron headed out on at Fishing Charter at 6am. We were meant to head out last Sunday, but the weather was bad so they changed it to the Tuesday. We bashed our way out for 2 1/2hrs to get to Double Island Point. Flic found it really rough! To get to the fish we needed to put the line down 57m…that was a long way. We all caught fish which was good, no big reef ones but we all enjoyed catching some big Spanish Mackeral which came by. We fished for 5 hrs, then had to bash our way back 2 1/5 hrs back which was really rough again. Matt’s back really took a hammering because of this… If it wasn’t for the mackerel we caught it probably wouldn’t of been worth heading out. The girls enjoyed their day with Nanny, Papa and Julie heading to Noosa National Park doing heaps of walks, spending time on the beach and watching the surfers doing hang 5 & 10.
Day #57

At the top of "Bindi's Treehouse"
At the top of “Bindi’s Treehouse”

This was a day the girls were really looking forward too. We headed off early with Julie and Ron to get to Beerwah to visit Australia Zoo. What an excellent day we had. There was so much to see and do. It really was a large zoo to make your way around. There were a few shows that we went to see. The ones we saw were the Giant Tortoise, feeding of the otters and the Birds of Prey show. Our favourtie show was a 12pm in the main Crocosseum. Here we saw Macaws flying over our heads along with a Wedge tail eagle, Rainbow Lorikeets doing circles, galahs, Black tailed Cockatoos and even a giant Condor. Also in the show were snakes, a dingo and of course a crocodile called Munga, which Steve Irwin had caught and brought to the zoo. There was of course so much Steve Irwin memorabilia. There were walls and walls of photos, newspaper articles and lots of artifacts that made up a museum. Lucy was pumped to see a crocodile called Lucy. The girls all held a blue tongue lizard, patted a Koala and Naomi just wanted to be in every show and be one of the zookeepers. She wants to work at Australia Zoo one day. Sadly no sighting of Bindi Irwin…the girls were so keen to see her. We were at the zoo right till the end. We were one of the last families to leave.

Day #58

Pack up day for us…in the rain!! What! Our first real rain for our trip. Matt had to put on his rain jacket, the girls needed to stay in the car while we hooked up the van and Flic ran around with an umbrella clipping down the pop top and making sure the lights on the van all worked. Matt’s shorts were saturated, we were saturated!! This morning we were driving to Samford Valley to meet our friends Beck & Bevan Ward. We arrived at their place around 12:30pm and enjoyed catching up with them and seeing their place. The girls loved having a pizza each for their lunch and being able to watch a movie while doing so. I was impressed actually, Naomi and Emma nearly polished off their whole pizza!!! We left their place at 3pm and it took us 2 hrs to get to the Gold coast where we were staying for a couple of nights!!! Our GPS took us nearly into Brisbane then back out onto the Motorway. Flic was thankful that Matt was driving the van on the motorway. It was so so slow and wet. We were glad when we arrived at our caravan park that’s for sure!

Day #59

IMG_0814Ok girls let’s go to DREAMWORLD!!! That’s where we are headed today. Matt wasn’t feeling the best today (since our charter his back was no so happy) so he put on a brave face and downed some pain relief to get him through the day. Flic was very proud as he did a great job walking and being excited for this day. We headed to wiggles world first so Lucy could do the ride she wanted to do all day. The teacup ride! Her face said it all… she loved it. It took a while for Naomi to do a ride with Mum and dad, as she was a little tentative to do anything, but eventually warmed up and did a few of the big trill rides like the Claw, the Wipeout, the Giant drop and the Motocoaster!! Even Lucy and Emma did the Motocoaster. They got to sit in sidecars next to our motorbikes. We were a bit concerned that it might have been a bit too fast for Lulu, but she LOVED it and grinned from ear to ear after it had finished. A highlight for Lucy was meeting Wags the Dog. I have never seen her quite like it. She gave him the biggest hug. The photo will prove just how much! Matt and Flic decided that that we showing our age a bit as we didn’t go on all the rides and weren’t really that fazed. We did do the tower of terror and the Giant drop, which is still one of our favourite rides that’s for sure. It was nice that we didn’t have to line up for any of the rides, as there were really not many people there at all. Its been great travelling in the off peak season. Once again we were there right till the park closed. The girls really enjoyed their day.

Day #60

This morning Matt was due to take Naomi out on a fishing charter from Brisbane. When he woke up he really was in no state to take her as his back was not good. After such a big day yesterday (and also the days prior) he decided it would be not wise to head out. He needed to rest and hadn’t been able too. So instead we could pack up at our leisure and drive a 1 and a half hours to our next destination Byron Bay. It is here that we get to stay in a house on the beachfront for two weeks, thanks to our dear friend Gaynor Johnson. This part of the holiday has come at a good time for Matt. A good time for resting and also it is great to have Jude and Grey here too. The girls are enjoying being with their Nanny and Papa 24/7!

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Felicity tangling with a mack
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Papa’s park (photo credit to Naomi)
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filletting fish with the waiting pelicans
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All three girls held this blue tongue but this is Emma
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Wedge tailed eagle
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Lucy with her crocodile namesake!
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Flic’s fave ride… the wipeout
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Wags don’t close my eyes!
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Thats nicer wags
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The girls with “Cowry Cove” on the Island in the background
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Collecting cowries
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making our spin art at Eumundi Markets
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such a long walk back up!
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running down a steep dune
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32 complete cowries!
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Dorothy teacup ride
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Gingy’s Ride Emma’s fave ride @ dreamworld
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Emma the “snake whisperer” returns
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Last time Felicity & I were at Dicky Beach we were on our honeymoon… now we have three daughters!
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Felicity with a mack tuna…
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Bundy tasting bar…

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Townsville and beyond… Ep #7

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Double Hookup!

Day #40

Today we went to the Barra Fun Park which had family dams with small Barra and a big dam with bigger ones. It also had Cable Skiing and a Water Fun Dam. Both the Vince’s and us started at the family dam with the Vince’s hooking and landing many barra and Felicity landed 2. Lucy hooked a turtle! After a while the boys (Matt & David) were “released” to fish the big barra dam while all others went to the water park. Now David and I are aware (for those who fish) that catching a barra in a dam “doesn’t count” but that didn’t make it not fun! While David & I kept hooking big barra the rest of the family were going down blow up slides and other cool inflatable equipment.

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Making Pizza with the Wards

Day #41

Today we sampled the free water activities on the Strand in Townsville. We met the Vinces there, then let the kids loose on the water park where they ran riot with the giant bucket etc etc, then we had lunch and visited the rock pool where there were iceblocks for the kids and coffee for the adults. That night we went to Geoff and Cherry’s sons house (Lindsay & Monica Ward) had a swim and made our own pizza.

Day #42

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Naomi at Reef HQ

In Townsville there is a big aquarium called Reef HQ which has many many things to do. We got to watch the sharks get fed as well as see a turtle hospital. The main two reasons turtles get brought in is because they eat plastic bags (they look like jellyfish) and because boats accidentally run over them causing shell damage. We got to go to the “turtle hospital” and see a 60 year old turtle, one that was only a month old or so along with a two juvenile turtles. They mentioned that this was a rare occurrence to have all three ages in at the same time. They had also that day sent a turtle back to Bowen to be released back into the wild too.

Day #43

Emma in prisoner stocks...
Emma in prisoner stocks…

Next door to Reef HQ there is a museum that has a whole floor dedicated to the history and wreck of the SS Pandora. This was fascinating and the interactive stuff kept the kids interested as well as finding all the birds in the museum. After that we drove up to the top of Castle Hill Mountain, which provided a 360 degree views of the Townsville. So many people park at the bottom and walk or run up to the top and back. This hill is the equivalent to our Waterfall Gully to Mount Lofty summit walk (but longer). People do this everyday for exercise!!

Day #44

A "Wild" barra
A “Wild” barra

Once again the weather played havoc with Matt’s charter bookings meaning that instead of fishing out on the reefs with David and scoring tea we were forced to flick lures all day in and around the creeks and backwaters of Hinchinbrook Island. This was good fun, and cod, small trevally, barramundi and one mangrove jack (good job David) were caught.

David's Jack
David’s Jack

This was certainly not what Dave & I wanted but that’s life… at least I’ve caught a “real” barramundi in the wild!

While the boys were away Felicity took Hayley and the kids to the swimming Lagoon 20 mins walk from Cherry and Geoff Wards place. The kids had a ball swimming in this large…FREE…pool, complete with lifeguards. What followed was a play on a giant fort, which was on our walk home. After lunch the girls were involved in the filming of a show called “Sally and Possum”. Ashton Ward (Cherry and Geoff’s eldest son) has been creating a show for deaf children. The whole program is in sign language with voice-overs so it can be used in schools to teach others about signing. Throughout the episodes there are snippets pf children doing different activities. Ashton was up in Townsville filming these segments, so the girls were able to be involved. They were so so excited.

Bye Wards... we will miss you
Bye Wards, we will miss you

#45

Today we drove to Airlie Beach but not before saying some big good byes to Cherry, Geoff and Ashton. It was fantastic eating 5 star food cooked by Geoff each night completed with a wine that suited and Cherry’s crafts kept the kids fascinated and tired! Back to caravan life again!!!

Day #46

Naomi & fish!
Naomi & fish!

Our reef trip with the Vince’s was good weather… we had to go via Hamilton Island to pick up others but that was ok. The reef was a bit further out than at Cairns but it wasn’t too rough. The kids enjoyed doing colouring sheets and journals which the staff gave out to the children. On arrival we got into our stinger suits and headed out again. This part of the reef was more like a ledge that dropped away so you swam along it which was different to the Whitsundays. We saw more Nemo’s than before and lots more clams. In the semi-submersible we saw “Charlie” the resident turtle. We ate a wonderful lunch then got back out there again.

Felicity & Hayley at Lovers Cove
Felicity & Hayley at Lovers Cove

Day #47

Today we were able to go to Daydream Island for free as a result of Felicity seeing a special booking deal. So we jumped over to daydream, where Naomi was lucky enough to do the “Stingray Splash” where she could hand feed stingrays.

Stingray tries to take Naomi's glove away
Stingray tries to take Naomi’s glove away

Naomi (being Naomi) was in her element as you can see in the photos. Everyone enjoyed Lovers Cove where we fed the fish and the girls lounged about. David Vince/Attenborough played wildlife expert to a French couple when a wallaby arrived.

Day #48

As we left Airle Beach we thought we were going to do a long drive as we needed to be in Noosa by the Friday….but we only ended up driving 150ks to Cape Hillsborough which is about 1 hour north of Mackay. This was a beautiful caravan park too so we ended up booking two nights. Lots of Sandflies though…so we had to remember the fly spray. We walked to Wedge Island (not the same Wedge as in SA and a lot less fish) at low tide on the first day and the girls found “cowrie cove” as they found 32 cowrie shells in about an hour of hunting. The girls could of stayed there for hours they love shell hunting. Back to the park the girls had a quick swim and we settled in for the night.

cowries!
cowries!

Day #48

We waited for the turn of the tide and we headed to the beach to fish. We tried one end of the beach, but it was really windy so we tried the other end, which was a little more sheltered. While the parents fished the girls loved exploring the rocks and caves on the shore. Felicity actually caught two whiting, which were tiny!! Sad/amazing thing is our next-door neighbor’s gave us some vacuum-sealed Spanish Mac & Fingermark fillets. That was very generous and tasted amazing.

After lunch we went on “Andrews Walk” a walk, which took about 2hrs. There were several lookouts on the way. At turtle lookout we did not see any, but apparently on calm days you can see heaps!! The scenery on the walk was awesome though.

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a cod (many were caught)
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Top of Castle Hill
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Top of castle hill
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Little turtle in hospital
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Big turtle in hospital
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Emma in amongst Nemo’s
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Lucy in amongst Nemo’s
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The girls distracting the glass cleaner
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Cherry gets craft out…
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David Atten-Bro
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feeding parrot fish at Daydream
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On the boat with daddy
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Tom “babysits” on the way to the reef
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caught an archer fish (a very cool fish… youtube them)
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small trevally
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Sunset on the way home from the reef
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one of three “waterfalls” we saw as we left the reef
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Cowrie Cove

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Crocs and other animals that can kill you Ep #6

IMG_0010Day #32 (sorry I know this a repeat day but we missed out a day somewhere)

The girls headed out to an Opal mine with Nanny & Grandpa while we replaced our little underwater camera, which broke while we were out on the reef. The mine was mostly a shop selling opal, but they built on a little fake mine to show how opal is mined, and how its found etc. The girls enjoyed the little outing, as we have been pretty relaxed at the caravan park the last couple of days. They were pumped when Nanny and Grandpa bought them each a little necklace that had the beginning letter of their name with a few pieces of opal it in.

Day #33

This was the day that Felicity and Hayley were looking forward too. They had organized some time at the Reef Resort and Spa for a little bit of pampering. They had a massage, facial and Pedicure. They came back very relaxed. Apparently the sister spa to them is “Stables Day Spa” at Mt Lofty House so they think they need to check it out when they get back just to compare!! IMG_0037While the girls were out being pampered the Dad’s enjoyed time with the kids in the pool and they built a giant crocodile on the beach complete with coconut husk scales, which delighted many walkers by and even had photos taken of it by complete strangers!

Day #34

Today was the last day the Vince’s were with us. We were thinking of heading in to Cairns, then thought that was a bit too hard and we couldn’t be bothered driving, so we stayed at the park. The kids enjoyed a long play at the beach and even found cockles while moving their feet in the sand. The boys went fishing while the kids were on the beach and used the cockles for bait! It was exciting when

Daves fish being proudly held by his son
Daves fish being proudly held by his son

Dave actually pulled in a fish that was a decent size and one we could eat. SWEET. It was a Giant Trevally. Not giant in size as the name suggests but bigger enough for some fillets. That night we enjoyed fish and chips for dinner and finished off with drumstick ice-creams while the kids had a movie night in our Annex.

Day #35

We said our goodbyes to the Vince’s and headed out to Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures. What an awesome day out. So much to see and for the kids to learn about. First port of call was the Cassowary feeding where you actually got to hand feed a cassowary. It was fascinating to hear about the cassowary and the important job it does for the rainforest environment. There are only 1000 cassowaries left in the wild. The girls were given a sticker earlier on in our trip when we were at the Daintree Discovery Centre. It has a picture of a Cassowary and the slogan “My Poo grows Trees.” Funny as it is, its true. Cassowaries eat so much fruit and eat it whole too. It then obviously travels through the Cassowary’s system and gets deposited throughout the rainforest where the trees germinate. The girls are now experts in how to distinguish the male and female cassowary along with information about egg rearing!. Next stop was the Crocodile Farm tour. They actually farm salt-water crocodiles for their meat and skin. Again it was fascinating to hear the process. The survival rate for a baby croc in the wild 1%. They have so many predators. The temperature that the egg is incubated at determines the sex of the crocodile. So they mentioned they do actually play God as they set the incubator at a particular degree to get a male croc. Also he mentioned once the eggs were layed it was like playing an extreme easter egg hunt! It takes three people to collect one lot of eggs. One keeping watch, the next put’s a x on top to mark the upward facing side and the other picks them up carefully with the upward facing side because that’s the way the croc embryo is sitting so if you turn it over the wrong way you will actually drown the baby croc. This whole process of croc farming is actually protecting the Salty being hunted in the wild along with them then being sold on the black market.

Spartecus
Spartacus

Then we moved onto the boat cruise which took about 20 mins as we traveled around the lagoon while the driver held out chook meat on a long pole for the crocs to jump at. We got some good shots of them jumping too. From there we headed to the croc feeding show. Spartacus was their biggest croc at a staggering 4.6m long. When he came out of the water and jumped he looked huge. They showed how quickly a croc can come out of nowhere and how dangerous they really are. They stressed how silly you would be to go swimming anywhere up here where crocs are present!

We then had some lunch where Matt and Naomi both ate crocodile. We all tried some actually. It wasn’t all that bad. It did just taste like chicken really. After lunch we headed to a Bird show where Naomi got to hold a Black Cockatoo and a King Parrot. The other two girls were really not fussed. Naomi is definitely into all kinds of animals. They all fed an Emu though! An Emu’s favorite food by the way is lettuce. Snake show next up! Hmm the girls loved it, Felicity not so much. The presenter was great. He mentioned that the Koala brings in $1 billion dollars each year with the amount of people who want to have cuddle and photo with the Koala…he couldn’t wait till cuddling of a snake brought in that much.IMG_4418 Last show of the day the Croc Attack show. They showed us what the death roll looked like and again how they sneak around without you knowing they are even lurking. All in all this day was a great one! So much info, so many cool shows in one day. Awesome.

#36

Today was a little bit of a sad day as it was the last day that Nanny & Grandpa Riggs would be with us. When we go our separate ways tomorrow, they are making their way home. The girls were very excited because Nanny & Grandpa had planned out our last day without the girls knowing what was going on. After lunch we were taken to a place called Paradise palms, which was a country club/resort. IT had a beautiful golf course and club etc. Also in this club there was a place called Pelicans In Paradise which consisted of a mini golf course, adventure playground, jumping pillow and a swimming pool!! This is where we spent the afternoon. We all had a fantastic time playing mini golf. Lucy actually was the only one who got a hole in one and it was on the first hole. Lots of laughs had by every one when the ball went off the grass down an edging which wasn’t seen before the first putt. The game took a while, Naomi went with Nanny and Grandpa the younger two with Mum and Dad. A quick play on the playground while the oldies had ice coffee and lattes then it was off to the pool for a cool down. On return to the caravan park Nanny and Grandpa shouted dinner at the Ellis Bar and Grill, the local haunt that got our business each morning and arvo for our coffee. Such an awesome place! Kids eat free between the hours of 5:30-6:30pm…brilliant.

#37

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girls walk a vacant beach

We left Ellis Beach today after a fantastic 2 weeks. We felt so relaxed and really felt these two weeks were the best part of our holiday so far. The girls just loved being there spending time on the beautiful beach, swimming in the pool and just being able to hop into Nanny and Grandpa van to have breakfast. Not only did the girls love it, we did too! Our plan was to go to Bramston Beach as it was meant to be a great beach, but actually we didn’t end up going there. As Matt was hitching up the caravan, Flic walked to get our last latte from the Ellis beach Bar and Grill. While she was there she was chatting to the barista and he asked where we were heading. He mentioned a place called Etty Bay, which he thought, was the most amazing place he had been to. The rainforest meets the sea! Etty Bay was about 10 mins from Innisfail and about 20mins further on than Bramston Beach. He said that you wind your way through rainforest then you come out to this beautiful bay, blue water and a beautiful beach. He couldn’t remember if there was a caravan park or a place we could stay but he said we should check it out. So once Flic got back to Matt with the coffee she googled this place! It did have a caravan park and even mentioned that cassowary’s walk through most days and Ulysses butterfly were everywhere. Sounds awesome!!! So Flic made the decision that we were going there. Well what can we say except…WOW!! This was the most amazing place. We came over the rainforest hill and the view was stunning… There were plenty of spots available at the caravan park so we got one right on the beach. We set up the van and headed straight for the beach.

IMG_0176Beautiful trees lined the beach so Matt and Flic set up their chairs in the shade with a drink and watched the kids play in the water, look through rock pools and build castles on the beach. While we were sitting there a mini bus turned up which belonged to skydiving Cairns. The driver proceeded to get out and put a pole on the beach with a red flag in-between the stinger net wires. He then came over to us and told us that 5 skydivers would be landing on the beach in 20 mins. Awesome! It was really cool seeing tandem skydivers jumping out of the plane in clear sight, watching them freefall then pull their shoots. Innisfail is where the plane takes off from and for an extra $30 you can land at Etty Bay instead of at the aerodrome. Over the next 2 days the girls were so excited when they saw the mini bus come down the road “Skydivers” was the call and we all got our chairs and made our away down to the beach to watch them land. IMG_0168Matt was very keen on the idea of jumping and landing here where the kids could of seen him, then he could just walk back to the caravan! More excitement that night while we were getting ready for tea a cassowary walked through our site and proceeded to eat the fruit around the park and next to our caravan. Perfect end to a great day! We love this place.

#38

We basically had the beach to ourselves today. Nothing better than walking the beach and having it all to yourself. Felicity was up at 7 with the girls and went for a beach walk before breakfast. Heaps of crabs on the beach. The girls delighted in chasing them back into their holes! They run so incredibly fast and are fascinating to watch when no one bothers them. Today we basically stayed on the beach for the whole day on the beach apart from a quick drive 10 mins to a harbor which had a sugar mill and a boat ramp. Not much really, but Matt was told he may be in luck to catch fish from the there. We were not heaps keen to fish there so we came back to Etty bay and chose to fish off the beach while the girls played and swam. We caught a few fish. Naomi even did too. She was thrilled when she caught a double header…a dart on the top hook and a puffer fish on the bottom hook. Felicity took home the biggest catch of the day…another dart just a bit bigger than Naomi’s. The light was getting less and less so we called it a day and went into the caravan for tea. We did see another cassowary at arvo coffee time, and more skydiver fun too!

beach to ourselves!
beach to ourselves!

#39

We woke up to a really great Sunrise over the beach, so Felicity got up to get the little camera (our new one we bought about a week ago because our other waterproof camera broke when we were on the reef) from the Van. Hmm where is the camera???? IMG_0259Oh no, Felicity raced out of the caravan and down to the beach because she realized that after taking a photo of Naomi with her fish she put it back in its case and put it on a high rock (or so she thought) and forgot to bring it back in last night!!! Naomi and Emma went down to the beach to help retrace steps to see if it was still there. It was not on the rock that Felicity thought she put it on and it wasn’t on any other rocks around the way. That’s it, its gone, its been washed out to sea or drifted to another beach. Girls and I prayed that we hoped we would find it. Felicity looked back towards the shore and she just thought maybe it might of washed up…to her amazement she saw a small amount of sand between two large rocks and sitting on this sand was the camera case complete with camera inside along with sand and pebbles. The camera turned on straight away…the buttons, which scroll through the photos doesn’t really work, but all the photos are still there, SD card all fine! Thanks God!! Slowly she makes her way back to the van and is met by Matt and Lucy coming to help look! Found it! PHEW!

We packed up the van while more skydivers landed on the beach. If we didn’t need to be in Townsville today we really would of stayed another night. It really was a special place. On our way out we saw the cassowary walking on the road!! Cassowary sightings each day – check, Ulysses butterfly sightings each day – check, and the rainforest really did meet the sea at Etty Bay!

We travelled onto Townsville where we are staying with friends of Matt’s parents Cherry and Jeff Ward. Cherry and Jeff used to live in Stirling; Matt grew up with their son Bevan and has memories of visiting them in Townsville when he was 12. Will be nice to sleep inside a house and enjoy not having to go walking to the toilet outside during the night!!

IMG_0274We also stopped at Cardwell on our way into Townsville so Matt could purchase a Mud Crab! He has wanted one for ages! The last one we saw was in Port Douglas and it was being sold for $90 a kilo. Nanny and Grandpa messaged Felicity to say that they saw signs in Cardwell about Mud crabs for sale at a more reasonable price, so we kept our eyes out. We found where they were and parked the caravan and went to the fish shop. There were live mud crabs or cooked ones. Matt thought about buying a live one, but we never would have had a big enough pot to cook it in, so be bought a cooked one. He ate it as an entrée to tea, and said it was well worth the money he spent! We are now in the Wards house and living a life of luxury…

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Eating Crocodile
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Eating crocodile
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Ramangtan
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Soldier Crab
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Reasonable view from our site at Etty Bay
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Hinchenbrook Island lookout
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Emma “The snake whisperer”

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Spartecus
Spartecus
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Someones got an in focus shot of my daughter feeding an emu!!!
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The most poisenous snake in Australia!
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Snake Bite!!!
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being fed mice
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Emu Egg

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Loving this weather Episode #5

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Our view from the front of the van…

Day #25

Today was really a check out the local area day. We just headed to Palm Cove which is about 5 mins away to check out the jetty, walk the main drag and have a coffee. It wasn’t amazing…lots of rich people live and holiday there as there are heaps of resorts on the main strip. It was a windy day so the water was rough. Not many on the jetty but a few fishermen. Enjoyed a coffee and cake for $8.90 (cheap for the area we thought) while the girls played on the playground across the road from our café. Headed to the Ellis beach Bar and Grill for Tea, which had kids eat free with a paying adult from 5:30- 6:30pm. This place is just a short walk from the caravan park. Ellis beach Caravan Park is just beautiful. The view from our site is amazing, my parents are next to us so the girls love heading there for brekky each morning and the showers are AWESOME… which is great cause we are here for 2 weeks.

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Millaa Millaa Falls

Day #26

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Baird’s and grandees at the curtain fig tree

From Matt’s previous trip around this area (28 years ago) he remembered doing a waterfall circuit and seeing in particular Millaa Millaa Falls and being able to walk behind the curtain of the waterfall and sit there. This waterfall circuit was in the Atherton Tablelands, about a1 hour drive from Ellis. We left by about 9am and headed around Cairns then turned off onto a very windy road to get over the rainforest and into the Tablelands. Our first stop was the Curtain Fig Tree. This was a very impressive sight to see. A strangler fig tree had totally taken over another huge tree. It’s too hard to explain so check out the photo and the explanation photo too. Apparently tree kangaroos live around there to, but just like the cassowary we recon they’re another mythical creature, as we didn’t see any!! We then checked out Malanda Falls, which was a very wide fall which fell into a swimming hole then meandered into to a cool looking stream. The girls enjoyed playing leaf races down under the bridge. Following on from here we found our way to the waterfall circuit. This little drive took us pass 3 waterfalls. The first one was Millaa Millaa, and it was just like Matt remembered it. We had a picnic lunch there too. Heaps of people were there swimming and making their way around the back of the waterfall. It was hard to take a photo just of the waterfall because so many people were either in the water swimming to the waterfall, or behind the waterfall sitting on the rocks.

Behind the waterfall...
Behind the waterfall…

Matt took Naomi and Emma behind the waterfall while Nanny, Grandpa Riggs and Lucy looked on from the grass. The girls also went for a swim…they said it was really cold, so didn’t last long at all. We also fed the catfish in the stream leaving the falls. The next two falls were ok to see, but Millaa Millaa was the standout. To finish off the day we chose to have a coffee and head home. It took us nearly 2 hours to get back to the caravan park. A long day but definitely worth the drive.

Day #27

Today we had another rest day before two crazy busy days. We lazed around the pool, spent time walking on the beach collecting shells and making sandcastles. The biggest highlight came in around 2:00pm. IMG_0027Hayley and David along with their kids Abby, Charli, Jake and Max arrived to stay with us at Ellis for just over a week. These guys left about a week after us and went up to the birdsville track and beyond before making their way to Cape Tribulation then onto us. Our girls were stoked to have them here.

Day #28

On the train with their school Pixies...
On the train with their school Pixies…

We were up early today to catch the Kuranda Scenic Railway train. We left the freshwater station at 8:55 and it took around 1 and a half hours to get to the village of Kuranda. We went through 16 hand carved tunnels and had such awesome views along the way. The girls loved holding their breath as we went through each tunnel. There wasn’t really much to do and see as we thought at Kuranda though. We were told there were heaps of markets to see. There were a few but most of them were shut. The only place we paid to go into was the Australian Butterfly house. This place was very cool. So many beautiful butterflies flying everywhere. If you stood still some would come and land on your arm, head or backpack. We did a guided tour, which really was fascinating.

Felicity with a butterfly on her
Felicity with a butterfly on her

The sole purpose of a butterflies life is reproduction. So male butterflies endlessly chase female butterflies to mate with them. They then lay eggs, which are collected and put in the egg hatchery. Once they are hatched the caterpillars are then left to fatten up on particular plants (certain butterflies like particular plants) and then are moved to become butterflies and then released back into the aviary. Naomi in particular was fascinated at the whole process. The blue Ulysses butterfly is just stunning.

getting onto the sky rail
getting onto the skyrail

Our journey home took place via the Skyrail!! Woohoo!! What an awesome way to travel. You are right above the canopy of the Rainforest. The girls delighted in saying hello to the “invisible passengers” as we passed the other carriages on the way up!! The last 15 mins was the most amazing. The view of the Cairns and the coastal beaches was stunning. Well worth the journey down. We all loved this part of the day the most.

Day #29

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BEST DAY EVER! Big call we know but it really was. We arrived at the reef terminal at 9:30 to get ready to board our boat, which was going to take us out to the Outer Barrier Reef. The girls and Felicity had been practicing their snorkeling in pools on the way up so they would be ready to do it when we got to the reef. Well we all took to it like a bull at the gate. We arrived at the pontoon at 12:30 and headed straight for the water. Lunch was being served from 1:00- 2:30, and the semi-submarine boat headed out only three times so we wanted to be able to get on that as well. We snorkeled till 1:30, then hopped on the first semi sub. This vessel was a boat on top and then we walked down some steps to a submarine like vessel which had bench seats which fitted two people and then windows either side to see the reef. What an amazing sight. The coral reef was incredible. We saw so many fish, one shark, giant clams and heaps of sea cucumbers. The girls loved every minute of it. This trip lasted about 20 mins. Once we were back on board we had a hot buffet lunch then headed back out snorkeling. Lulu didn’t last as long as before, but Emma was the dark horse…she outlasted us all. The girls and Felicity found the snorkeling quite easy as they got to wear life jackets which made them not get as tired swimming. Out of everyone, Felicity loved it the most…and even wanted to go again. The girls loved waving at the people who were scuba diving underneath you taking your photo. 583Naomi’s highlight was being able to touch a giant Wrasse! Also the girls and Matt were the only ones to see a turtle! Unfortunately Felicity was off taking Lucy to the toilet and missed seeing it as the horn of the ship blew at 3:15, which meant everyone had to get out of the water we were heading back. Felicity was a tad disappointed so we wont mention this again! We arrived back at the terminal at 5:30 and got tea at Maccas before heading back to the caravan park. This day was very memorable. A fantastic day out for everybody.

Day #30

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count them out if you want…

The two days before were really long and busy so we had a rest day at the caravan park. This meant more swimming, collecting shells. The girls/boys actually created a “Sand Village” with about 87 houses all decorated with shells etc. Who needs TV hey?

Day #31

It has been great that Nanny and Grandpa Riggs are up here with us. Not only do the girls love having breakfast with them in the morning, but today we had the day to ourselves without the girls. Felicity organized a Food and Wine trail tour throughout the Atherton Tablelands (around the Millaa Millaa waterfall tour we did). This was a really great tour. There were 12 on the bus with our guide Warwick. We needed to be picked up at 6:50am and we were not home till 6pm. First stop we had coffee, scones Jam and cream on Lake Barine, then we moved on to a cheese & chocolate factory. We saw the cheese making process then got to taste the produce… mmmm! We bought three different cheeses and some beautiful rocky road for the girls (but mostly for us). Next stop a macadamia farm.

yummmm macadamias
yummmm macadamias

This farm was a local one, which no other tours stop at except for us. We saw how they were grown, harvested and how they were processed on this little farm. Very interesting actually. There were 8 macadamia farms in the area, then along came cyclone Larry and destroyed most of them. Only 2 now are growing. This little farm only sells locally to the cheese factory, ice-cream factory and markets etc. From here we had our lunch in the Tolga Pub. Garlic bread followed by crumbed mackerel and prawns with salad (the only thing missing chips) was awesome. So nice having lunch with no little children! First time in 5 weeks! On from there we went to a Boutique Fruit Winery. Taste testing of all of them. Felicity not a massive wine drinker but enjoyed trying all the different types. The mango port was the nicest so we bought a bottle of that. Last stop we needed to be at the Australian Coffee plantation Sugarbay by 3’oclock so we could get a coffee!! It was interesting to see how coffee was grown. They are called red berries and they are on a bush. We tasted them, the outside actually tasted like apple. Inside you would find either two or three green beans which you don’t actually eat! These green beans then are dried and sorted and put into bags and either sold to other companies to roast or roasted there on premises to sell. Coffee we ordered was perfect, the view was perfect…a perfect end to great tour actually. Meanwhile the girls had an awesome day out with the grandies. They headed in to Cairns to the huge lagoon swimming pool on the esplanade complete with a lifeguard on duty. The water was quite cool, but the girls had a ball. Then they moved onto the botanical gardens where Naomi and the girls enjoyed being tour guides explaining the different plants and trees as they went. Funnily enough though, their highlight of the day was having Subway for lunch because they got to choose what went in their sandwich and they had a cookie along with raspberry Fanta drink!! Thanks Nanny & Grandpa for giving us a break for the day. It was awesome. Sadly though Matt received a phone call at 8:30am this morning saying that his 4 day fishing charter which he was flying out to tomorrow will be more than likely cancelled because of the forecast high winds for the weekend L. When we arrived home he received an email saying that it was definitely cancelled! So the next 4 days he will be now be around not away.

Day #32

Sandcastle Museum Day today!! Having another rest day at the park. The girls and the Vince’s decided to build a museum in the sand. There were two guided tours at different times. We even had to pay money for entry! This money we were told was going to the ice-cream fund! Cheekily enough they were trying to get other caravan people to visit their museum too!!

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Under the waterfall
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A big big stick bug in our anex!
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feeding the masses…
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This fish had me fooled to the end… not a shark 😦 caught from the front of our park.
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last stop on the food trail… thanks Nanny & Grandpa!
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Drinking the Vince’s mango wine!

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Now we’re in the tropics! Episode #4

Day #15

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Josh… the star of the day!
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Our sexy stinger suits

Today was a great day as we did a “Three Island Tour” through the Whitsundays. First Stop was Daydream Island, which was amazing as we saw sharks and rays being fed and got to hand feed wild mullet (which are quite big) at “Lovers Cove”. Our Tour guide Josh was awesome. Our girls loved him and kept asking question after question. Our group only had 11 in it so Josh had a great time himself. He mentioned the day before us he had 30 Japanese tourists who hardly spoke any English!! He was very informative and mentioned that Daydream island had just changed hands and is being redeveloped. We then went to Hamilton Island for lunch and saw some impressive boats and a building that looked like a manta ray… then off to Whitehaven Beach. Whitehaven Beach is from the Qantas ad and was as beautiful as it looks. We had to wear stinger suits, which as you can see are very sexy outfits to be sure. By the way Josh enjoyed having us so much he gave each of the girls a turtle toy which you could of bought for $12.99, but gave them to us for free and a stubby holder! Nice

Day #16

Was mostly a driving day, but since it was the day before Felicity’s birthday we went out to breakfast at the Fat Frog, which was beachfront in Airlie Beach. Then we drove to Jourama Falls campsite and settled in for the night.

Day #17

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Wallaman Falls
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Cattle not bothering to move for us…

Felicity’s actual birthday….so we opened some gifts in the van, then the girls had set up a treasure hunt for her to do. They had finger-stitched bracelets which she needed to collect around the park. We drove to Wallaman Falls, which meant leaving the van behind, driving into Ingham, dodging cattle for 20km that sat on the road then finally… kind of… seeing Wallaman. You see it was foggy but we could see it Ok. We abandoned the idea of walking down to the bottom of this 285m monster waterfall because of the rain but took a short walk and when we returned the falls were clear of the cloud! We were stoked to say the least. For lunch we had a meal at the actual “Pub with no beer”. Going back to our camp we had a snorkel in the pond which had fish and turtles in it… but the water was super cold.

Day #18

On our way to Mission beach we stopped into a place called Tully. We visited and walked to the top of the giant gumboot. The height of the boot was the most average rainfall the town received in 1950…7.8m of rainfall…which is still the highest today. We drove through several cassowary conservation parks which meant we needed to drive at 80km. We were really keen to see one…but to no avail. So much so we thought they were actually a mythical creature!!! The only one we saw was when one actually walked pass our caravan in the caravan park!!  A quick(ish) drive to Mission Beach resulted in the afternoon spent watching our three girls swim and slide in the pool while we had a few drinks and truly relaxed. Our girls don’t seem to get cold so they were in the pool for hours.

Day #19

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Our home at Mission Beach

A full day of relaxing ensued today. We were either at the pool or swimming in the “stinger net” which protects you from the Box Jellyfish. Matt tried his luck fishing but was frustrated as he could see barramundi under and around the nets but they wouldn’t touch his bait. Some little fish did though. That night we sat on the beach and fished hoping for something bigger. Matt only had two baits that he kept from the earlier fish so we went home empty handed.

Day #20

We went to the Mission Beach markets this morning. Felicity bought some pants that are super cool (as in cold… and cool too I guess) and we got some tiny “sugar bananas” which tasted awesome. We had a coffee in Mission Beach and the girls loved the fresh squeezed juice. Emma had a tropical surprise, lulu an apple juice and Naomi loved her carrot, apple and ginger one!! The arvo consisted of more swimming and sliding in the pool. Dinner we bought some fish and chips and ate them by the ocean….was great having no mozzies bothering us to!

Day #21

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the bucket falls on the whole family

Was the day we would meet Nanny and Grandpa Riggs… but before that we had to drive. As we drove into our park the massive water park (that is part of the park) stood out and all three of our daughters went crazy (I think our ears are still ringing). Hugs and kisses for all before we set up and hit the park. All from the youngest to the oldest hit the park.

Day #22

We drove (with Nanny & Grandpa) to the Daintree Rainforest, crossed the ferry and went to the Discovery Centre. From there we got to walk on an elevated platform with self-guiding telephones. It was very informative and the telephones had a Children’s guide too, which was great. Naomi spotted a Cassowary, which was great, and we tried very hard to spot the Ulysses Butterfly, and did many times with their iridescent fluro blue wings. From there we went on the “Solar Whisperer” which was a boat that was only powered by solar making it super quiet. IMG_3962We saw 4 crocodiles and many different species of Kingfisher and even a green tree frog. The cruise lasted and hour so we left to come back to the caravan park at 4:50pm. We had only been driving for about 10 minutes when we came to a complete stop. People ahead of us had turned their engines off so it didn’t look like we were going anywhere fast….and that’s exactly what happened! A crash between two cars had occurred about 10 mins before we arrived. We were stopped for 1 hour before the police finally let each way slowly through the accident sight.

Day #23

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George the groper

Was charter day for Matt while the rest spent more quality time sliding around in the water park. The charter was pretty good but while others were catching tealeaf trevally Matt got 4 Bludger trevally… fight good but not edible. We searched the reef for “red” fish and only got one legal amongst 8 of us which was frustrating… but that’s fishing. The whole family met Matt as the boat was docked and then we went to see George (the 300kg groper) get fed while John & Jill shouted us a bucket of prawns. At this place they had mub crabs in an aquarium. A person who works there took one out to show the girls. Its claws were tied up of course! Matt would love to eat one of these one day….he asked how much…$90 a kg was the market price….so as a matter of fact he was holding a $90 crab! Sorry Matt no mud crab for you!

Day #24

Was a short drive to Ellis Beach where we will be for two weeks. We have a view of the beach through palm trees and of the Island (Double Island) in between… bliss!

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Patting the Mullet
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Lunch on Hamilton Island
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Naomi with a Dart
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Can you see two clown fish?
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On the ferry
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Our ferry dropping us onto Whitehaven
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Bludger Trevally…
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Looking for “George” the groper
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The mud crab daddy will never get to eat!
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At the top of the rainforest tower

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After Canberra Episode #3

Day #9DSCF1362

Was met with no wind and no rain but quite a few people messaging us concerned that we were in the middle of the Newcastle/Sydney storm… turns out that we must’ve punched through the storm on our driving day and were sitting above it. The girls are doing a fantastic job being in the car for so long. We were actually going to break this drive up and take two days to reach Hallidays point, but thanks to Mel’s wool the girls were happy doing finger stitch and watching movies that we reached Halliday’s Point in 1 day!!! Also getting around the outskirts of Sydney didn’t take us that long either. Sadly the storm brought big swell to the beach Matt had planned to fish that day so instead we watched surfers charge the waves at the Blackhead Point with a latte in hand while the kids played on the beach.IMG_3639

Day #10

The best laid plans… we had hoped to see Thunderbolts Lookout in Torrington before pushing on to Bald Rock, however very windy roads through hilly rainforests coupled with poor planning by us meant we only made it to Torrington. We stayed overnight, arising early to set off on our walk to see Captain Thunderbolt.

Day #11

IMG_3657In the morning we got to do our first hike of the trip to Thunderbolts Lookout. Matt got pretty nostalgic as he had been there on a previous holiday and the kids loved the caves. Really great lookout at the top with a 360 degree view. We then travelled to Bald Rock Conservation Park, set up and lit a fire and cooked potatoes in the coals.

Day #12

DSCF1414Walking the 3km+ route to the top of Bald Rock was always going to be a good litmus test for how our family would cope on walks and with Lucy having a minor meltdown within the first few 100 metres it wasn’t looking good however we have learnt that distracting Lucy with different techniques works. We did the hike in about 2 hours, which included a long rest at the top and breaks in all the caves on the way up. After our walk we drove (nearly) to Bunya Mountains to feed the birds by hand… however the road didn’t recommend caravans so after a few corners we did a U-turn and headed out. 5km up the road was an amazing free stop off with power ($1/hour or $2 got us all night) and $2 showers in a place called Kumbia. That day we were approached by locals to march in their Anzac Day Parade and then attend the service.

Day #13

DSCF1426There was no Anzac Day dawn service at Kumbia but a march at 8am and the service to follow. 6 helicopters did a fly by during our service which was very cool. We were going to go back to Bunya but Felicity discovered a caravan park that did bird feeding each afternoon in Cania Gorge which was near Monto. But first we travelled to Kingaroy and bought lots of peanuts from the Peanut Van. Unfortunately Kingaroy doesn’t do peanut tours anymore, seems with OH&S & the like its all become too hard, so we pressed on, but not before (by chance) seeing an F18 flyby! IMG_3712We arrived in the caravan park at 4.30pm and made haste as the bird feeding was at 5pm and the girls were star struck by the water park. They had a ball, heading down the waterslide even though the water was freezing. In the morning they loved sharing breakfast with the local kangaroos very close by.

Day #14

IMG_3759We left the park early and hiked the “Dripping Rock/ Overhanging Rock” hike. At the end Lucy told Matt matter a factly “that was an easy walk” even though it was longer than she had ever walked before. This was a really great walk. Emma delighted in the fact that we walked 296 steps to get to the Overhang. They loved counting along the way. We drove until we reached Marlborough and then stopped behind a servo with what turned out to be quite a crowded spot. The kids were happy as another family turned up and 4 dirt piles turned into islands… who needs a playground when you have an imagination? After dinner the girls experienced their first Bubble O Bill… they were pumped! We made them wait till the morning to have the bubble gum… I think all the hype died down quickly as they couldn’t work out how to actually blow a bubble and that it very quickly lost its flavor!

So… we’re writing this at the Whitsunday’s… but thats for another blog 🙂

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As you can see we’ve got them doing the dishes!

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To Canberra and beyond Episode #2

DSCF1180Well what to say! We left a day late thanks to a bit of sickness in one of our daughters but that gave us a chance to be “fully” ready with an extra day of preparation with placing things in the van. Before midday Emma (supposedly sick) was running around and eating so we knew we were good to go the next day.

IMG_3256Day #1 was spent driving to a spot near the River Murray called Piangil… as you can see our camp was sweet (esp for free) and it was only the mozzies a big as the tires on the car that stopped me from fishing.

IMG_3262Day #2 was also spent driving but we stopped at Swan Hill (and sat in a big Murray Cods mouth)… then Echuca. We ended up north of Albury in a less pretty spot with trucks going past, but there were so many we all slept well as it was a consistent noise! When Naomi woke up in the morning she was quite impressed at the sight of a massive B-Double parked just behind our caravan!

IMG_3290Day #4 was the final dash for Canberra, where we did the mandatory stop at the dog on the tuckerbox at Gundagai. This is probably as good a time as ever to notice the girls all have all been given pixies by their classes from Mount Barker Primary School and so they will be popping up from time to time. So we’re almost into Canberra on Barton Highway and Felicity is looking through the brochures and says “Cockingtons Green is on Barton Highway” so befIMG_3310ore we knew it our Canberra adventure was in full swing. For those who don’t know Cockingtons Green is a miniature village of about 1/12th scale that seems to never end… Felicity (who had been there before and loved it) was in her element. She remembers seeing a streaker in the soccer game….and yep it was there! Also to the girls and Matt’s amusement even Darth Wader and Obi One were there.   We then went to Mel & Luke Hamptons house and had a quick shower before driving to Parliament House (or Parmesan House if you are Emma) for a look. IMG_3373Unfortunately Tony and his other big wigs were not there but you can’t win them all. A highlight for the girls was being to roll down the grassy hill on the roof   of parliament house!!

DSCF1194Day #5 saw us see three different places. We got up pretty early and went to the mint where we all struck our own $1 coin for $3…? But it was a great place to visit. From there we headed to The Australian Institute of Sport where Felicity was able to relive her High School Volleyball National Schools Cup glory… DSCF1228However apart from the 800 metre athlete who was our guide and showed us all the gyms and pools no other athletes were sighted L. After that was the best part of the day for me (Matt) as Mel (a war historian at the memorial) organized a tour for us through the warehouse that holds anything that cannot fit into the real War Memorial. It was insane. There was a V2 bomb rocket there, and Felicity & I had been to the concentration camp where these were made in Germany in 2004! IMG_3460There were more things there than is possible to mention (over 100,000 items from planes to bombs) and I took a lot of photos so if interested ask when I get back. Highlight for the kids (and me) was getting into a WW1 tank.

Day #6 was Questacon. Basically it is a totally hands on science place with more than a days worth of things to try or do. While we were there we met Melinda Cousins which was fun. The girls had a riot of a time (as did their parents). Naomi enjoyed the freefall the most. After Questacon we did a mercy dash to the art gallery to see “Blue Poles” and were “enlightened” for the day…

IMG_3500Day #7 was the War Memorial, and with a private war historian for a guide we were definitely blessed. The WW1 area has recently been redeveloped so had touch screens which made it easier for the girls to stay interested. There was also an education centre where the kids were told they could touch everything and they all got “trenchfoot” in the fake trench system. Emma even drew a picture of trench foot in her journal!!!

Day #8 was a travelling day, but not before Mel served up bacon & eggs (what an amazing host)… in fact she fed us so well we didn’t have lunch but snacked our way to Hallidays Point which I had planned to be a 2 day drive. Our girls were amazing today in the car, which also helped. They loved finger stitching in the back along with watching a few movies. So here we are in very rainy blustery conditions but dry and safe.

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