There is something about seeing where you live through the eyes of a first time visitor that reminds you how lucky you are! This was certainly true for us during our adventuring with the Adams! We tried to structure our outings in such a way that there was a balance of things we knew with a few new things, things in town balanced with day trips and free things with those that cost a bit. We leaned a lot about what worked well and even more about how much we have to learn about being tour guides. We pushed pretty hard to see as much as we could but there was so much more that we wanted to show them! Sigh! And, then there were the things that didn’t quite work out like we planned and we didn’t have a back up plan. For instance, picking up where we left off…..Day 6 had us scheduled for a surf lesson in the mid afternoon on the Gold Coast which is an hour-hour and a half drive south of Brisbane. We had an easy morning conserving our energy for the surfing to come and arrived at our lesson only to be informed the waves really weren’t good enough for us to go out. Serious bummer! We had initially scheduled the surf lesson for the afternoon thinking the weather might be a bit warmer – it is winter here – but now we know the chances of cancellation are higher in the afternoon. So we rescheduled. We made the most of what was left of the afternoon walking a nearby trail with great ocean views and watching the sunset but it was disappointing and felt like a precious day lost a bit.
On Tuesday, we had scheduled one of the Brisbane’s excellent free services called the Brisbane Greeters. We met at City Hall and took a three hour walking tour through some of the CBD into the City Botanical Gardens and ended up at Queensland University of Technology. Our guide was a retired professor from QUT and an incredible wealth of information!
On Wednesday, we headed once more to the Gold Coast for an early morning surf lesson. Just as we were pulling into the parking lot we received a call that our instructor could not find his keys. He suggested we go get a cup of coffee while he looked. We waited and waited and waited. We watched the surfers from up on the bluff. We discussed what might be plan B. We finally got the call that he found them and could be there around 1. We were frustrated but eventually decided to go with the lesson because we had already made the drive down and this was on Maggie’s bucket list of things to do in Australia. In spite of all the irritation of waiting, our instructor was actually really good and patient with us. Maggie already had mad surfing skills and led the way for us all. Eve also was able to hop right up. Lawson and I popped up ever so briefly and fell just as quickly but totally fell in love with the experience even if we weren’t up long. We can’t wait to really learn to surf! We were freezing by the end of our lesson and found a place to get some chai and coffee and watched the sunset once more!
One of the most long awaited parts of their trip was our visit to the Australia Zoo and the koala encounter that Chastity, Maggie and Eve got to experience! We arrived right as the zoo opened and wound our way through the wombats and were able to hand feed the kangaroo’s. We found our way to our seats at the Crocoseum for the main show at noon which features the crocodiles. We were really fortunate to be there when Terri, Bindi and Robert Irwin were all there for the show.. On this day it was a little harrowing because one of the birds didn’t get the memo about the croc and kept getting really close to the edge of the water. It was not part of the script and everyone in the stadium was holding their breath that we wouldn’t watch nature in action. Fortunately, the bird was spared as the Irwins and the other staff distracted the croc! Whew! From there, we took a tram to the Africa section of the zoo. In addition, the Nature Channel was filming the Irwins so we got to see that process in action. It was finally time for the Koala Encounter and what an adventure that was for our three explorers! Look how cute these pics are!
The next morning we were up early once again as we headed south again toward the Gold Coast for a whale watching boat trip. The whales are migrating north right now and while you can on occasion spot a whale from the shore, it is all the more likely going out on a boat. We chose to go with one of the scuba diving charters because of the small size of the boat which meant everyone had a good seat! Our only regret was not having our really good camera with us. We did get a couple of good pics, just not quite as many as we would like. The whales were simply breathtaking!
After several day trips to the Sunny and Gold Coasts, we took Saturday and Sunday to chill in the city. We took the free ferry down to South Bank and took in the art museums! We then walked over to Fish Lane and had pizza and pasta at one of our favorite restaurants Julius Pizzeria! From there, we had to introduce Chastity and Maggie to Messina gelato! Yummy! We wound our way back down to the Brisbane sign and attempted to get some photos of the girls without other people in the photo – impossible! The sign is frequently swarming with people climbing all over it and this evening was no different. The girls had great fun and we loved seeing the sun set over the city from this vantage point! While at South Bank Chastity and Maggie rode the wheel of Brisbane and got to see the city from up high all lit up. We walked from South Bank over the pedestrian bridge to QUT and the lighted trees where we attempted to get a few photos! We spent Sunday morning exploring Roma Street Gardens and then headed home for a chilled afternoon spent playing games. After a busy week, we all relished the down time learning a new game and just enjoying one another’s company, plus our dogs Felix and Dani and kitty Karo were thrilled to have us around for an extended period of time!
We awoke early the next morning to prepare a picnic lunch and get packed up for the drive and ferry ride to Stradbroke Island (Straddie). After the hour long ferry ride we made our way back to the little coffee shop we discovered on our first trip to the island. A little warm chai and we were ready for some koala and kangaroo in the wild sightings! We headed first to Amity Point. If only we had a four wheel drive vehicle! Alas, we do not so we parked and walked out onto the nearly deserted beach. We then hopped back in the car to drive to the Gorge Walk. It was Eve’s eagle eye that caught this sweet koala hanging out very near the road! We got out and took some photos and our sighting caused others to stop and snap their own photos. Sometimes it is nice to know that Australians get just as excited about seeing a koala in the wild as we do! We walked around Amity and watched the pelicans and just enjoyed the natural beauty. Then it was off to the beautiful North Gorge Walk. Well, lunch first. We appreciate how much Australia still has an abundance of picnic tables and public amenities available. We began our walk and early on found these kangaroos just chillin just off the path! The views from North Gorge Walk are simply fantastic! At one point, we saw a couple of whales and a couple of sea turtles. Unlike our first trip to Straddie when things were rainy and overcast, this day was perfectly clear! Ahhh! We live in a beautiful world! We must be stewards of this world God has entrusted to us humans!
We had planned one more trip up to the Sunshine Coast (Sunny Coast) but almost two weeks of constant exploration was starting to catch up with us. One of the things we definitely learned is pacing is always kinda hard. You want to fit in as much as you possibly can but not wear yourself and your guests out. Hmmm. We have a lot to learn. I remember why I came home from our first trip to Australia with a stress fracture in my ankle! We took the next day off and drove over to one of the neighborhoods near Eve’s school. Eve loved showing off her school and Bulimba has a nice little downtown for window shopping. On the Adams last day, Sophie scheduled a trip to the Cat Cafe for her, Maggie and Chastity. After a quick lunch, we took the City Cat ferry to UQ (University of Queensland) and explored a bit of the city we had not made it to yet. Sophie gave us a very quick tour of her school as we maneuvered around a multitude of new graduates taking photos all over the campus. From there, we caught a bus back to West End and had one last stop at Messina for another gelato! We walked off a few of those calories by heading back down to the Brisbane River and South Bank for one last Brisbane sign climb and then it was time to head home so Chastity and Maggie could get a few hours of sleep before our 3 am drop off at the airport. And, just like that we were hugging them goodbye! Massive sigh!
I haven’t shared before how we met the Adams have I? A series of somewhat traumatic events transpired that had us pull Eve out of the school she was in and begin home schooling her in 2015. While we love the flexibility homeschooling provides a family, Lawson and I are not exactly the right profile for this job We were using a school in Vermont that was a Waldorf based distance learning program with teachers but the distance aspect was challenging for Eve. On a homeschool group outing, Lawson and Eve met Chastity, Maggie and Reese and a wonderful new friendship was formed and ultimately Eve was welcomed into Adams Academy that semester! While the circumstances that led us to homeschooling for a time and to meeting the Adams was not optimal, it is a good reminder of how sometimes hard things in life can bring unexpected blessings – like the Adams! We are thankful for their presence in our life and for their making the long journey to see us in Australia! Here’s to more visits from them in the future and to more of our friends making this journey! Thanks mate for joining us on this adventure!