Subject: Time Marches On, (long)
Hello Everyone,

Airley Beach, it seems so long ago. Tony did get to join in a Wednesday afternoon race at the Yacht Club, it was blowing quite a bit so he really enjoyed himself. They won too, which always helps in the enjoyment stakes. On Thursday he went sailing for the day. There were 6 others aboard most of whom had never sailed before but all looking for some real sailing. Reg the skipper was great and very relaxed about letting everyone take a turn at the helm, he is the only person offering this type of trip in the Whitsundays so anyone not looking for a party boat is lucky to find him. Once again it was pretty choppy so I was glad I decided not to go along. Tony enjoyed snorkeling and hand feeding the beautifully coloured fish, visibility wasn’t great but the sun shone and everyone had a great time.

I spent the day doing laundry and ironing, (how pathetic) and trying to photograph the huge goanna which kept turning up to watch. It was the size of a small alligator and the grounds men told me it was on the small side. The resident male is much bigger and took the toe off one of their colleagues while they were eating their lunch one day. Do you think they were having me on? I don’t know, they certainly made sure it didn’t get too close to their feet under the picnic table.

That evening we shared the camp kitchen with a beautiful baby toting possum and a couple of females, ancient (i.e. older than us) Brits who were outrageously funny and reinforced our decision to camp. You just don’t have evenings like that in a motel or restaurant, and if you do, they are likely to ask you to leave. Next morning they were off on a boat trip and we turned Blot’s face towards the south.

Pretty soon the skies were big and uniformly blue again, with the sun bathing the countryside in a warm glow, we were more than happy to be back in the Australia we know and love. Even with better weather we think we would still preferred the wide open spaces to the tropical far north of Queensland (sorry Gail)

Noosa Heads was our next port of call. Everyone said we should go and everyone was right. It is a fabulous area, talk about ‘water, water everywhere’. It is on the ocean, has a wide river, many lakes, lagoons and canals. No wonder some enterprising person has imported a Venetian gondola for an alternate boating experience.

Our municipal campsite was right on the river as it flows out into the Sound but that first night we thought we had made a mistake in selecting it over sites further out of town. As we arrived on the Anzac Day, long weekend at the end of the Easter school vacation, it was very crowded. Anzac Day was on Tuesday but the world and his family seemed to have taken the Monday off work and given themselves an extra long weekend at Noosa.

Usually tents are stuck at the back of a campground, or along the side nearest the main highway, out of sight and out of mind but here they were right on the riverside. Fabulous spots, but all those with river frontage had been booked long in advance, most from one year to the next. The rest of the sites were behind them and very densely packed together. The place was heaving with young backpackers here to learn to surf and to party. As we old ladies were going for showers at 9.00pm the girls were getting themselves all glammed up for a night on the town. Happily for us the site in front of us became available the next day and we didn’t at all mind moving the tent to a prime bit of Noosaville riverfront.

We really enjoyed the Noosa area, we could walk into town to check out the up-market boutiques and on into the National Park to watch the surfers or walk around the head. Or, we could walk along the river and watch the fishermen and choose a restaurant from the many options for lunch or dinner. There is parkland along the river with picnic tables and BBQs, in the evenings they were all occupied by people dining under the canopy of illuminated trees. Some were having a simple hot dog and beer but many of the tables were set with beautiful linens, china and glassware for more sophisticated fare. The wine was flowing freely, right out there in the open and the world did not end. Are you listening Canada?

When these pleasures paled we could quite happily sit for hours in front of our tent on the 15 ft. of grassy sand dune between our small private beach and us. All kinds of craft ply the river, from little fishing ‘tinnies’ to great big party boats. If we were lucky it was the jazz cruise going by. In the morning the rowers and deep-sea fishing tours were out in force, later in the day the river ferries, sailboats, and anything else, which could be made to float. A fleet of Pelicans alternated between a sandbar in the middle of the river and the beach where they hoped to pick up some free samples from the fishermen cleaning their catch. Take off and landing always raised a smile. Our 3 nights quickly became 5 and Byron Bay was relegated to a drive by.

On the road again, the Sunshine Coast giving way to the Gold Coast. The same everybody who told us to go to Noosa also told us to give Surfers Paradise a miss. But we just couldn’t do it. We were so close we just had to go and see so we too can join the many saying ‘give it a miss’. Probably because of it’s bad press we quite liked it, just for an hour or two!

We were heading for our first experience of rural NSW, staying with friends on their 50 beautiful rolling acres. When I was invited out on to the veranda to meet the neighbours I thought I was seeing things. A mob of about 20 red-necked wallabies was grazing on the lawn below. To make my cup completely runneth over some of them had Joeys. I must say I was surprised to see the size of some of these ‘babies’. Some were tiny and too young to have much fur but others were way to big to be riding around in mummy’s pocket to my way of thinking. They would hop out and bounce around as if on springs before diving back in again, I bet they were males! When mother gets fed up with this she lies down on her stomach and makes it impossible to get aboard. Apparently females can choose the sex of their offspring, now isn’t that useful?

Along with wallabies there was a mob of grey kangaroos but they were shy and we only saw them hanging around the edges of the garden. The ‘neighbourhood’ also included a donkey who would come for an apple when called, or even when not called, a couple of shire horses who it the grunts were anything to go by were having an orgasmic experience feeding on water lilies in the dam and flocks of galahs and rainbow parakeets, a host of Kookaburras a couple of king parrots and a beautiful tawny frogmouth which we found on the veranda one evening looking very stunned as he had flown into the window.

While we went about ‘women’s business’, checking out the art galleries, antique shops, bakeries and nice little restaurants in Bellingen, the boys went about their ‘men’s business’, tinkering with Blot and hanging out at the pub. There Tony tells me one could easily find the inspiration for an Australian version of the northern British pub sit com "Early Doors".

One day we drove up to the Dorrigo National Park climbing up the steep scenic waterfall route to be blown away when we arrive at the top and found ourselves on an 18 million year old plateau formed by the Ebor volcano. It was so beautiful and green and fertile up there, the more so because we were not expecting it. In the park we walked through a subtropical rain forest and declared it our favourite over the temperate and tropical forest walks we had taken previously. It was cool and lush and lovely in the forest, we didn’t see too many birds but we sure heard them.

Time to leave this little bit of heaven on earth, we have to be back in Melbourne for a footie match on May 15th and we have places go and people to meet along the way.

Regards to everyone, Sue and Tony Waterloo, Ontario