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The Sunshine Coast, Queensland

AUSTRALIA | Sunday, 23 June 2013 | Views [628]

My first sighting of Brisbane coincides with the most magnificent sunset I have seen in a long time. Typically it would be the first time I have not had a window seat, but this was too good to miss and so making my apologies, I leaned over to get a couple of shots. It has become a bit of mission to take photographs from the air, especially the first sighting of somewhere new.

The shuttle bus deposits me at Ellie’s Guest House, which I had rather hurriedly booked just before leaving Auckland. The suburb of New Farm is quiet and leafy and the peaceful accommodation was much needed. After the sightseeing frenzy that was New Zealand, I am find I am absolutely exhausted. I resolve to take it easy over the next few days. Venturing to the local market, as recommended by Jaqui, and on the ferry into the city for a gentle stroll is about as adventurous as I get. The weather gives me its full backing by obliging with rain for a large proportion of my time there.

The first thing of note about Brisbane is that it is not on the ocean. The River Brisbane is an integral part of the city which straddles it and whose floods caused massive damage in 2011. The birds here are very vocal so that it sometimes seems like I am in the middle of an exotic aviary. Like all Australian cities I have visited, Brisbane is easy to navigate. The South Bank and Roma Street parkways are beautifully maintained and the botanical garden, famed for its roses, add to the importance of the green areas here. I love the tropical trees and plants, many of which are so familiar from my childhood days in Africa.

After light sight-seeing and a few days of rest, I am on the Premier Motor Service bus headed for Cairns. I have a hop on-hop off ticket valid for 3 months and costing a fraction of the price of its competitor Greyhound. First stop is Noosa where I am staying with another old friend and her family. I am looking for Australia’s photo spots, having found so many in New Zealand. My friend lives just minutes from a beautiful long beach and the warmest Pacific Ocean waters I have come across so far.

Up in the hinterland, the villages of Montville and lesser known Maleny provide stunning views of the Glasshouse Mountains and the sea beyond. The main street of Montville is flanked by interesting little shops and restaurants designed to keep its visitors enchanted. We drive out to Secrets, a small and exclusive resort nestled into the trees. The tree houses are connected by a wooden path with handrails that intermittently reveal wooden figures carved into them. Each tree house is designed on a theme and we visit ‘Dragonfly’.  Two dragonflies are carved into the heavy wooden door which opens into a glass-fronted spacious split level room. A double bed occupies the upper space and a sofa and hot tub fit comfortably into the lower area. The shower area is large enough to hold a bed and, I am told, from the honeymoon suite there is a private view of a waterfall. A small patio overlooks the lake which can be enjoyed more fully from the wooden double-seated bench swing. A small barbeque provides the means to cook the sumptuous barbeque pack available (or you could opt to use the private kitchen) and the possibility of visiting wild possums only adds to the unique charm of the place. Perhaps the most unique aspect is the woodwork. Solid wood is polished, carved and brought to its best aspect in the immediately obvious and unexpected places. For the seclusion of a romantic getaway, this would absolutely be my first choice.

The passing days are filled with companionable laughter and chatter as we visit markets, stroll along beaches, find coffee shops in nearby towns and spend evenings in the company of neighbours. The Sunshine Coast does its best to live up to its name, and considering it is winter, rarely disappoints. All too soon I become conscious of time counting down towards my departure.

I am very excited about heading north and seeing some of the finest beaches and snorkelling that Australia has to offer but at the same time I have begun to feel so at home here that leaving is going to be difficult.

The Sunshine Coast encompasses everything I hoped to find in Australia. The scenery is varied with beautiful beaches, green mountains and hinterlands and tropical vegetation. Towns and villages are dotted along the coastline without a major city in sight, and yet Brisbane is only 120kms away. Tourism blends in here without kilometres of garish resorts. All that’s needed now is a sponsored job, and perhaps the resort up the road could just be the ideal spot….!



Tags: australia, brisbane, glasshouse mountains, maleny, montville, noosa, premier motor service, secrets


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