Category Archives: People

Girls Night Out

My elder sister has already created a strong support network after only a short time on Bribie Island. TOBIs – Territorians on Bribie Island, being one group with obvious common background. Seems those who used to live in the Northern Territory quite like the low-key lifestyle and capped population to be had on Bribie Island.

Another group is known ironically as “the Young Chicks” – a group of women from a certain age who meet monthly for dinner. Apparently my big sister was the instigator, originating the group with emails to inform where and when to gather, she usually books.

To pad out that selected lifestyle is WIRE – another woman’s group. This group is more sports orientated; Golfers, tennis players, swimmers who gather to discuss issues relating to local council, politics (main focus being a recent huge increase in rates, particularly for canal-side houses) travel destinations, small business and grand children’s activities. These women share problems and strategies.

During several different visits and our housesitting members of these networks certainly took pains to be inclusive and probably kept an eye on the home-minders.

Returning home after a lovely evening I encountered another infestation, our biggest; a mouse pitter-patting down the hall. Rod is keen to blame all of these visitors on my sister’s garden mulching – composting system.

Finally we have success on the beach weather front. Walking the dog on a picturesque morning with early sunbeams and less wind, but eventually even this minor resistance makes us turn around. The terns on the beach have a head-bobbing mannerism that makes them look like little old ladies or kids with a funny little dance. Sea gulls wash on the surf edge.

Long established rule of swimming come to mind. Never swim alone, in the early morning, in the presence of bait fish, or in clouded water. I try not to shift into panic mode too quickly. At least I couldn’t see any bait fish.

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Onward to Burleigh

Now we get to experience the major changes to Pacific Highway, straight out of Waterside and onto the bypass. How will all those caravan parks and beach resorts along this coast cope? Places like Red Rock, Arrawarra and Mulloway. Much less access to the –just turn off the highway– discovery factor.

There is a point progressing north when the vegetation changes. Paper barks dominate, the ground seems like a flood plain. Vines fill the gaps. There are gum trees but they seem insipid. Signs warn of Kangaroo the next 20km, then Horses. There are no perceivable fences.

Woodburn NSW
Lovely riverside to take a break.

We stop at Woodburn, where the lampposts sport fire motifs art work. On the Evan’s River, this is the Lismore turn off. Our café choice does not do Chai, only Latte (not the same thing) but a huge range of milk shakes. You can get an enormous artery choking $15 breakfast, and plenty are. Steady stream of traffic loaded up school holiday returner style. We are subjected to random breath testing just outside Ballina.

Ballina NSW
Not meant to be a Bunning’s Ad

The Big Prawn’s new posh coat of paint has made it more visible as we transition onto the Logan Freeway. That anticipated view across the rolling hills of Macadamia Nut plantations still seen even with the huge gouges into the rich red dirt for the major upgrading of this section.

There will never be a by-pass around Coffs Harbor was our conclusion. It’s too political with a commercial – commerce lobby. Tourism must traverse to ensure a strong passing trade. The purchase of swaths of banana grower’s land to put in a highway that just seems too hard.

Thick traffic is encountered only when we close-in on the Tweed River. Now there seems a buffer zone on speed. According to urban myth you will not get booked X km over the limit, is it 5, or 10, we don’t know. But the locals do seem to, and they speed accordingly.

Virgin Travel Magazine writes Burleigh up as – just a stone’s throw from the glitz and glam of Surfers Paradise, but its village like atmosphere makes it feel like world away…. The new Byron Bay…former fishing village has evolved from a touristy coastal hub offering kitsch souvenirs and fish and chips to a hip little enclave… pristine beaches, a surf culture, fabulous dining, eclectic markets and laid back charm. While all that is a big sell, the article does go on to point out…so many individual shop and land owners…it can never be built out, so you are doing to get a village feel forever…We hope so. Village as featured image.

Village markets burleigh heads
Gotta love a market

We didn’t schedule our arrival, getting to Burleigh for a sunny Sunday, end of a long weekend. Weekend market is on the foreshore. ($2 for giant pack of bananas) Parking is a nightmare, some are even on the entrance ramps to apartment block car park. ‘Tomorrow all those people will be gone, and we’ll have it all to ourselves’, is Rod’s optimism. Offered up for a change from the ‘I love it here!’ mantra. He asks all sorts of questions about which apartments are up for sale.

Time for food shopping, parking under the areas covered by shade cloth (a tropical Queensland shopping centre innovation). It’s crowded here and finding a trolley is also a debacle. What are all these people doing here? But we do recognize the Australian triathlon Legend Jason Shortis at the check outs. His wife scours at me, but he’s ever the diplomat making small talk.

Jason Shortis
Might random women talk to Jason?

We finish off the day with a mini-drive tour around the canal-side housing of Burleigh cove. This probably used to be a swamp. The type of water soaked land those developer scams were selling off in the 1970s. Wall to wall Mc-mansions now, built so close they could share garage doors.

To where did the day vanish?

After dark late in the week at Burleigh means a gathering on the foreshore that resembles Cheryl Strayed’s Wild …loose tribe of so-called freethinkers, who share a common goal of peace and love on earth…drum jams and bonfires an parties… They can’t light bonfires on the grass esplanade so practice flame dancing, and fire eating instead. Parties are all about communities of music and low wire work. The latter I think is teaching newcomers so they can make money at county fairs at some stage in their travels.

Southern Cross Apartments Burleigh Heads

Several Types of Humanity

Mullumbimby markets
Serious hippy factor at ‘Mullum’

Several types of humanity in Bondi. The crowded Sydney streets, I look for the range of shapes, sizes, and various ethnic heritage in some of the other places we visited in 2014 and don’t really find it. Yet there was diversity in FNQ. Especially with the Islander influences, and the number of European tourist who start their great Australian experience in Cairns.

The hippy factor in the Northern Rivers, Byron Bay vicinity in NSW, especially the fresh produce markets. Chief executives circulated, recognizable from the purple velvet hat she wore. And the young vegan girl I watched eat a custard apple with her fingers, and Rod later saw at the Beach near Brunswick Heads. She was naked, exited the water, gave thanks to the ocean gods, got dressed and walked away. I looked dewy eyed at a man selling bread at a markets. I swear he could have been my love child, fathered by the potter in the Coromanels. I had such a strong feeling of knowing who he was.

Someone else had such a feeling one morning while I jogged the wonderful Ulysses track at Mission beach. A lady stopped me and asked, ‘are you with Multi Sports?’ I mumbled an affirmative, sure she was talking about the work crew at the Airlie Beach Marathon weekend. ‘How far are they up the track?’ I was wondering are Greg and Belinda in Mission Beach too? Only to discover she was talking about a local fitness group. Same name, whole different function.

Waterfront Terrace Apartments
Andrew behind the counter to this luxury.

The people encountered at hospitality establishments often prove entertaining. Our struggle to find a place to stay in Cairns introduced us to Andrew “sometimes I have a problem controlling my inner Basil Fawlty.” Used as his excuse for thinking maybe it’s time to sell the holiday apartment business. He was hanging out for a deal from developers, who wanted to pour money into the area because of a planned second casino. Except for one old house in the block of four between here and the next cross street. So Andrew was pinned behind his slightly messy desk keeping tabs on the inclination to yell at someone.

Yungaburra Far North Queensland
Penny’s swagman themed room

Or Penny in Yungaburra, who talked million miles an hour, full of her families’ life story, everything, no subject was sacred. She saved us from paying too much, and being chilled in a 3 bedroom house. But still we were waiting outside her little self-contained themed room with me wondering; what is wrong with this house? Why doesn’t he want to stay here? Eventually Penny told us where to see a tree kangaroo, and even if this wasn’t Rod’s favorite location (snake phobia) he endured the four days.

Yungaburra Atherton Tablelands
The pharaoh themed room – Yungaburra

Mike in Port Douglas, at Under the Mango Tree, we were expecting someone more like Andrew. He was sufficiently friendly, but not as open as Andrew. Perhaps it was the neater office, but we could not negotiate as readily on costs as it was possible further south in Cairns.

Under the Mango Tree - port Douglas
Our port Douglas abode

Madonna in Burleigh – suiting her name. Blond, what the singer might actually be like the musical Madonna had aged appropriately. (featured  image – the property they manage Southern Cross Apartments)

This feels a little like a phone book entry, lots of names, but not much plot.