Day 39 and 40: The long way home

It is always a sad moment when you realize you have to leave, and as always: all good things come to an end. This is also the case with our trip in Australia, and today is that day. It however will take a full two days for it to end, as we leave the country tonight at 9 and will have to sit through nearly 24 hours of flying.

As it is not nearly 9PM yet, we’ll have the entire day to drive from Glass House Mountains to Brisbane International Airport. We briefly thought about going into the city prior to our flight, but were held back by the logistical hassle of it all as we would have to get rid of our car in the city somewhere and afterwards drive back to the airport.
Instead, we opted to lazily make our way down the coast towards Brisbane. Lets say we’ll wing it. 🙂

This proved to be the best idea so far, as it is just marvellous up here. No wonder they call this part of the country Sunshine Coast!
We actually didnt drive South from our lodge, but North instead towards Mooloolaba. They have a great Esplanade over there, and we have spent quite a few hours there sitting around in the sun and generally procrastinating until after lunch.

After that, we drove South towards Brisbane via the small beach communities along this coast until we found a place calld Shelly Beach, where we have spent the rest of the afternoon on the tidal flats and amongst the tidal pools searching for shells, fish and crabs. What a great way to spend an afternoon lazily!

We had to go back to the airport, and be there by 18:30 as we were to hand in our rental car by then, and so we did. As Brisbane is quite the city, we actually drove on proper highways for te first time in weeks! Multi lane, and with a separating barrier in between it was quite different from what we have become accustomed to. I’m only glad we have a Camry over here, and not the FJ Cruiser as that car is clearly not meant to drive on roads like these.

Travelling back to Amsterdam actually was quite uneventful, as we took off on time, landed on time in Dubai and got our connection right on schedule. The only misery was back in Amsterdam, where the recent opening of a more streamlined customs experience actually meant standing in line for about 45 minutes where we are usually done within 5. Oh well, is has been a good trip nonetheless.

Australia, you have been good to us. Maybe we’ll be back, but probably to visit the parts we have not visited yet: WA!

Day 38: Back to Glass House Mountains

After the very intense experience of driving on Fraser Island, the night of sleep was more than welcome. We also slept in a little, as we only had to travel a small distance of three hours from here to Glass House Mountains. 

As the drive down is very scenic but quite uneventful, we arrive at our lodge pretty early, but are glad to be able to check in already. As it still is our honeymoon, we are presented with the option to be upgrading our room (free of charge) from our standard room to a more luxurious room. The owner of the property gladly showed us the three different room available to us: two train carriages (one from the 1930s and one from the 1980s) and an old church. We chose the latter, as it is an awesome room.

The church was built back in the 1880s as a replacement for another one, while that one was not accessible due to flooding. Floods like that however didn’t occur there any more until 1970, which meant this church hardly ever got used. The current owner bought it, and converted it to a room for his lodge. It is huge, as the church still has the full size. The current owner built a loft inside it for the bedroom, but the rest is open plan. It includes a full sized table with chairs, a kitchen, a main seating area, a secondary seating area and the best of all: a fireplace. We needed it as well, as the temperature dropped quite substantially at the end of the day. Let’s just say the fire burnt nice and hot that night!

We also walked the summit route to Mount Ngungun, which gives you lovely views over the entire area, including Mount Tibrogargan, Mount Beerwah and Mount Coonowrin. Great fun!

Tomorrow, we’ll also have nothing else to do than be somewhere at a certain time, which in this case is the airport in Brisbane at 18:30 to return the car.

Day 35: Further North to Hervey Bay

The drive from Glass House Mountains to Hervey Bay is only a short drive, clocking in at about 3 hours or 240 kilometres. We need to be at Hervey Bay by tomorrow morning very early to catch the ferry to Fraser Island, and that is why we spend the night over there.

As the drive is not too long, and we have to spend our day anyway, we opted to go to Australia Zoo today, the Zoo set up by the late Steve Irwin! His family runs it now, but is is the same as it started a long time ago, although it has grown quite a bit over the last few years. It is home to many native Australian animals, like the Dingo, Wombat, Koala, Kangaroo, Wallaby, Echidna, Emu, Cassowary, kookaburra and of course Estuarine Crocodiles. The zoo also houses many more animals like a whole host of Parrots, some birds of Prey and even Zebra, Giraffe and Rhinoceros!

The Zoo is best known of course for the Crocodiles and Koalas. At lunchtime every day, a show is performed with a lot of animals in the zoo, where the importance of conservation and humans acting correctly around wildlife are conveyed to the spectators in a huge arena. There also is a place where you can pat Koalas, and even have your pictures taken with them! The zoo is really hands on, and all animals are very accustomed to human handling, whether is is a Wombat on a leash, a Koala in a low tree ready to be patted or the zoo keepers giving a presentation inside the enclosure of a Sumatran Tiger with the Tiger present, it is clear the animals are on display and have been taught to act that way too. This way of running a zoo is completely unfamiliar to me, as we (back home) are used to seeing a very hands-off approach where animals are mostly left alone in their enclosures and encouraged to act ‘naturally’.

But, it seems to work for Australia Zoo! People are flocking to it, but even though it was on a Sunday, the park never felt crowded. We have been inside the Zoo from 9 to about 2 in the afternoon, and then had to leave to make the journey to Hervey Bay.

Tomorrow morning, we will be briefed for our trip to Fraser Island, and we’ll get another car (4×4!) as our Camry is completely unsuitable to be driven off road. I highly doubt there will be Internet Access on the island, so I’ll be gone for a day or two.

Day 34: To Brisbane

Airlie Beach treated us to a similar view this morning as it has for the last few days: gray overcast skies. Today however, everything was different: the skies had opened up and heavy rains fell down. Perhaps it is only a good thing that we are leaving today. We also shortly pondered about how yesterday would’ve been like with todays weather…

After a quick breakfast we packed our stuff “airport style” and took off towards Proserpine Airport, also known as Whitsunday Coast Airport. This has to be one of the smallest airports we have been to, with 2 scheduled landings and two takeoffs per day. One of this was the flight to Brisbane. Unlike all our other flights in Australia, this one was with Jetstar, and we even had row number 13, something unheard of back home. It is only a short flight to Brisbane, and 80 minutes later we already had left the plane.

We picked up our next Rental Car, a white Toyota Camry this time (again not the car we paid for but one class larger) and drove off to Glass House Mountains National Park, where the lodge was situated. The rest of the afternoon was spent walking the National Park and drinking tea.

Tomorrow we will, completely unplanned, visit Australia Zoo, the zoo owned and operated by the Irwin Family. This zoo is only 10 minutes driving away from our lodge, and since we again only have a short drive in front of us tomorrow, a day at the zoo will be spent well.