Martin Family East Coast Trip

Sunday, Jan 10, 2010 at 01:00

ExplorOz - David & Michelle

We spent Xmas 2009 in Sydney to be with our families and when planning the trip decided to tack a whirlwind Gold Coast theme parks and Sunshine Coast exploration trip onto the end of it making almost 4 weeks away from home. As we have a young family and did just about every theme park, zoo, and attraction to be had between Sydney and the Sunshine Coast we thought we'd share some of our experiences and photos with both our family members reading this blog but also other ExplorOz readers who might find something useful in our notes for planning a similar trip.

I'll write this as one blog with dated headings for each day from 16th December 2009 - 9th January 2010.

Day 1: Wed 16/12/09

As much as we knew it would be an awful flight to book, we left Perth at 11pm on a Jetstar flight to Sydney. I will explain ...

Day 2: Thur 17/12/09

With a 3 hour time change, our touch-down in Sydney was 6am made all the worse by a terrible amount of air turbulence throughout the night. Understandably, we were not feeling terribly well on arrival so news of "no spare bay" for our plane was not well received. And almost 1 hour later we were still sitting on the tarmac, hungry, tired and hot. I still say however that it was worth it. Why? We saved a lot of money booking this flight. When I originally looked at flights, I picked the ideal flight times and ideal days but the price for our 3 flight sectors for 4 people topped over $4500. By selecting the less than ideal flight times, leaving 2 days earlier than necessary, going Jetstar for the Perth-Syd sector and flying to Brisbane instead of Gold Coast on our second sector, we brought the price down significantly to just over $2400. So - we felt crap but knew it was worth it.

Thankfully things got better rather quickly. Our bags were all there, our shuttle bus was prompt and we arrived at David's parents place (a retirement village in Cromer on Sydney's northern beaches) before 9.30am. All we wanted however was breakfast and a bed, so that's just about all I remember of our first day! We did manage to perk up a little in time for dinner, which was a picnic at Clontaf Beach where the kids had a ball in the water on one of Sydney's hottest, humid day of summer.

Day 3: Fri 18/12/09

David and I are in the peak of our training for our summer triathlons so our Xmas trip was no excuse to slacken off. So, at 6am we awoke to a rather bleak and cool morning but headed out (leaving kids asleep with grandparents to look after them) in their car to Dee Why Beach for swimming training in the beach pool. Unfortunately, the sign "Pool Closed for Cleaning" above an empty pool made the swim impossible. Instead, we enjoyed a gorgeous run along the beach doing the full stretch from Dee Why to Long Reef and then up the Long Reef headland to the monument at the top and back again. Later that morning Nanna took the kids to the movies (Where the Wild Things Are) which they enjoyed, whislt David and I did our last minute Xmas shopping and confirmation of how much we enjoy NOT living in Sydney. Admittedly, we timed our Xmas shopping expedition on the worst day - coinciding with a bus strike on Sydney's northern beaches where there is no other public transport (no trains) so driving and parking etc was a nightmare. We went to the nearby Warringah Mall, which again seems to have had major extensions, but even so, it was not an excursion I'd look to do again for another decade if I can help it.

Day 4: Sat 19/12/09

David's parents always hold their family Xmas get together on the Sunday prior to Xmas. This year, it was being held at David's brother's house - a property set in rural Castlereagh, which is basically the foothills of the Blue Mountains between Penrith and Richmond. We borrowed one of David's parent's car's and headed out there a day early to help with preparations. Again, we encountered more than what could be considered a fair share of traffic, which made our trip almost 2 hours long. But their place is wonderful and the kids love their cousins so the travel complaints were quickly forgotten. After some cooking and craft, sister-in-law Michelle Martin (yes, another in my namesake) took us to see Angie her neighbour who has a Shetland pony, a Miniature pony, and her beautiful dressage show horse.

After over an hours worth of fussing over the horses, grooming, feeding, mucking out etc we headed back and the boys got our their motorbikes. Leah was given the opportunity to have her first ride - on a PW80, which unfortunately ended rather quickly when she ran into a fence (out of control) and had a nasty fall that fractured her wrist and made a mess of her nose. (This wasn't confirmed for a few days, but was plainly obvious as she's already fractured this arm twice and we know the signs now). The video was running at the time, with David's brother Tony out there with Leah so take a look at the action. Not sure its "funny" enough to send into Australia's Funniest Home Video's but see what you think. The audio track is probably the funny bit...NOT


Day 5: Sun 20/12/09

A day of feasting with the Martin family!

Day 6: Mon 21/12/09

David and I had intended to get up for a run - but sleeping in happened instead. David's sister-in-law Michelle, took us out to see where her horse was being agisted in the Grose Valley before we spent the rest of the day waiting in doctor's and x-ray surgeries to have Leah's fractured wrist confirmed. We managed to avoid the dreaded plaster in lieu of strapping so that the theme parks and waterslides would not be off the agenda once we got to the Gold Coast later in our trip. Thankfully, Leah's nose was not broken but it was a swollen, horrible shade of yellow and purple with 2 nice black eyes to match. Afternoon activities for the kids was a rather safer indoors event spent on the Wii and DS.

Day 7: Tues 22/12/09

Finally, we gathered enough energy to get up early for a run on our last day in Castlereagh and enjoyed our 6km run around "the block". We only just arrived back in time to see off Tony on his way to work - a 2 hour drive to Newcastle. We are amazed at how much time people living in Sydney spend in the car. We also had another long car trip to look forward to - this time moving on to stay with my parents, the Jacka's in North Turramurra on Sydney's North Shore. This time, we had some local advice about using the tollways and although we spent about $20 we cut our travel time down significantly.

Arriving at Colin & Sandy's (Gran & Popo), we were looking forward to upping the training. My father has been a serious bike rider for over 20 years when a bad back made him take up the sport for therapy and he got hooked so he is always keen to have some company out on a ride. North Turramurra lies on the edge of the Ku-ring-gai National Park, which fringes the beautiful Bobbin Head waterway which is an upper arm of the Hawkesbury River. A winding bitumen road leads from their house down to Bobbin Head then up the other side of the mountains to Mt Colah making the ideal bike ride. Although we would loved to have taken our bikes across, it was a bit of logistical nightmare so instead we opted to borrow what we could. David on Dad's second bike, and me on Mum's hybrid. David and Dad took off without me that afternoon and had a great ride to Mt Colah and back. Mum had bought tickets for the kids and I to go to the ballet in the city so I missed out on sport but enjoyed the outing. We made quite an excursion out of it, by taking the train to Wynyard, showed the kids the big xmas tree in the Queen Victoria building, experiencing the hustle and bustle of Sydney's peak hour pedestrian traffic, buskers and then into the historic State Theatre for the ballet. Wow!

Day 8: Wed 23/12/09

A totally wet rainy day today so no riding. Instead, David and Dad took off early for a paddle on the kayaks. My brother arrived today from Canberra to stay a few nights and his partner would also be arriving tomorrow so there was to be quite a house full for Xmas. He brought his dog Titan, a sooky lah lah staffy and it made us all miss our dog Harry who we'd put in the Kennel in Perth (along with the pet rats!). I spent the day with Mum shopping for Xmas - another great shock with food prices much higher than we pay in Perth. We'd "inherited" a turkey - David's father won it at the golf but his Mum won't eat it, so we agreed to take it, and prepare it for Xmas Day. Having never prepared a turkey this created a new challenge that was quickly solved with a bit of Goggling - and so David became a turkey expert overnight and started the brine process on Wednesday, cooking would be Thursday. Later in the afternoon, the weather improved but the roads were still too wet for the road bikes, so Dad and Dave took off on the MTBs for a bush ride.

Day 9: Thur 24/12/09

Christmas Eve
Finally, my time came to get a ride. Dad, David and I started off nice and early for a ride down to Bobbin Head and up the other side to Mt Colah. It was good practise to get some hill riding - Perth is much flatter. A hybrid is no match for the road bikes on this sort of ride so I struggled a bit, which raised a comment from passing riders "she needs you to get her a new bike for Xmas" but of course I already had a new bike for Xmas but it was on the other side of Australia!

We then took the kids to the Taronga Zoo - using our Perth Zoo membership we had free entry and $5 parking saving over $100 so it was a good start to a great day at the zoo. We were very impressed with Taronga Zoo, and on looking back it outshone Seaworld and even Australia Zoo. The seal show, bird show, elephant show where far superior presentations to that offered at the other parks and the crowd management, and even food was better managed. We've decided to write more detailed blogs on each of the theme parks and zoos we visited this trip so will link this section to that when I've completed all my blogs for those that would like more information on Taronga Zoo.

After our great day out, we drove to Mona Vale beach to meet up with family friends and have a swim after quite a hot day. We had a light dinner and put the kids to bed early ready for Santa's arrival.

Day 10: Fri 25/12/09
Christmas Day

A day of feasting with the family!

Day 11: Sat 26/12/09

David and I headed out early for a 10km run through the bush of the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. It felt so good - amazing how many other people did the same, pretty good for 6am after Christmas day. The day was mostly overcast with some rain so no riding.

Day 12: Sun 27/12/09

Caught up other family members in Warrawee - ate a few treats there too. David and I then left the kids with my parents and went to see Avatar in 3D - fantastic!

Day 13: Mon 28/12/09

After a big house full of people, everyone left today but not before we all had another bike ride. Rich and Angela to Canberra and our family back to David's parents in Cromer.

The weather was only average and certainly not a beach day so a family gathering was organised with David's brother and family coming down from Castlereagh to catch up with us again. Had a great time! After some more feasting with the family, David and I did a night run.

Day 14: Tues 29/12/09

Our last day in Sydney and we awoke to perfect weather - finally. 6am start with run to Dee Why beach, laps in the beach pool, then return run back (total 8km run, 1km swim). Kids just waking up, breakfast laid out. Why are we leaving?

Day 15: Wed 30/12/09

Early morning flight was overcast Syd-Brisbane.
Time change meant we arrived same time as we left. Picked up Thrifty car rental at airport ($100 surcharge for that convenience, but we considered it almost worth it considering the drama of having 8 bags and 2 kids to go trooping off into Brisbane city to pick up from another depot). However, once at the airport I did discover a thing called "Airtrain" - which I'd never heard about. According to the brochure, Airtrain runs express trains every 15mins between the airport, Brisbane city and the Gold Coast. 2 Kids (<14) travel free with paying adults, so AirtrainConnect from airport to Gold Coast one way is $45, or $85 return for our family. This means we could have paid our $45 and returned our car to the airport when leaving and saved $55. Oh well, next time. Maybe you can take advantage of this now that I've told you!

Anyway, here'd the car stuffed full of bags... Red Ford XR6 none the less, bit of a change from our dusty old 80 series!! The kids had unpacked their new DVD screens to put on the headrests and had slotted a DVD in before we'd even turned the key! Driving from the airport to Gold Coast we had to figure out how to pay to use the tollway and realised there were no coin booths to go through so we were being video for fare evasion. We noticed signs for something called GoViaVideo pass and phoned the 1300046842 number listed - followed the prompts and gave our credit card number and rego number to register our nominated days for any use of tollways (matched to security camera apparently). Pretty full on - not seen anything like that before. (In Perth, there are no such things as toll roads anyway).

Before long we had found our hotel in Broadbeach - a brand new building called the Ocean Pacific Resort. Just want we needed - and so totally different to our usual rough'n it holidays!
I'd booked this online, spending hours using the 360degree camera viewing tools to check out the decor etc. There's nothing worse in my mind than paying high prices for accommodation and not liking the decor. We were more than suitably impressed as soon as we opened the door, so got ourselves settled for our 7 night stay - finally together as a family in real beds.

As we wanted to hit the theme parks tomorrow, today we had to sort out tickets, stocking up our apartment with food, and making a schedule. As we sell all the theme park tickets on ExplorOz via the Activities section, we had a fair idea of what prices we could get, but for some reason, but we had been told by the hotel not to book anything before we arrived - that they could offer the best prices. I wasn't convinced so at Pacific Fair I checked out the cheap ticket booth offering discount for cash and found it was exactly the same prices. The online sites for the theme parks were also the same price, so in the end it's all the same. The only difference is who you choose to give the commission on the ticket sale to (ie. the vendor).

One very useful thing I did pickup from the ticket booth however was a booklet called the "Dining Out & Entertainment Guide - Gold Coast". Most, if not all ads contained vouchers with sizeable discounts off meals, from 10-40% discount off food. The conditions were not unreasonable, eg. the 40% discounts were for nominated days of the week and for meals order before 6.30pm - perfect for budget conscious families. So, with book in hand we trolled up and down the Broadbeach promenade checking out the amazing sidewalk restaurants - simply stunned at the variety - nothing like this in Perth where we go. We settled on a mediterranean place called 1two3 and used their 30% food voucher which made us justify a little splurge on the drinks - 2 margarita's thank you! Happy holidays!

Day 16: Thurs 31/12/09
New Year's Eve

Today we visited Seaworld with our packed lunch bulging out of our backpacks. For a full review, please see separate blog (coming soon). I will say however, that the new ride "Jet Rescue" is, in retrospect, one of the best rides on the whole Gold Coast theme park circuit. The seal show however was one of the worst shows, being unnecessarily Americanised and totally irrelevant to conservation themes. It was nothing short of a waste of time. In contrast, the seal show at Sydney's Taronga Zoo was sensational, with the show centering around education, and appreciation of the seal and seal lion species. The dolphin show at Seaworld was wonderful and spectacular as expected - a first class job and not to be missed. In the past, we have seen a water-ski show too, however this has now been replaced by a Pirate show, no waterskiing, a little bit of acrobatics off a pirate ship, on jet skis and on the shore out the front of the entrance. Come'on Seaworld - you'll have to do better that this I think to justify the entrance fees. But the crowd pleaser at Seaworld is the Polar Bears - however after watching them do the same tricks over and over for almost 40mins I got to wondering...

Tonight we were in luck - enroute home from Seaworld we pulled into a car space directly outside a Jappanese Teppanyaki bar with availability for dinner! Such a treat for the kids with the chef putting on a great display of knife juggling and egg throwing! The 8pm new year's eve fireworks were about to start just at the end of the street, so with the car in the perfect spot we walked down - only to be drenched by a sudden downpoor of rain. The crowds were there but surprisingly, we easily managed to get right up to the fence and watched the fireworks explode from the casements in the sand on Broadbeach. As for the midnight fireworks? We were well asleep in our beds by then but did hear them and glanced briefly outside our windows with wonderful views of the Gold Coast to Burleigh and Surfers.

Day 17: Fri 1/1/10
New Year's Day

After a huge day yesterday, we gave ourselves a rest-day from theme parks but still managed to get to the gym and pool for a morning work-out. We took the hire car up to Surfers Paradise and paid $15 to park in a parking station all day. With little in mind other than browsing, we strolled through shops, bought a few things, and experienced "Cold Rock" for the first time. I've since discovered this is here in Perth too, but we obviously live under a very cold rock as we'd not heard of it. The kids loved choosing their lollies and having it smashed through the icecream and it did taste great, but at the price they charge it's not something you can afford to do everyday in the holidays! Enjoy it kids while it lasts!

Leah convinced David that she wanted to go into the "Haunted House". I left them to it, and took Chardae window shopping - she wanted to try on all the "pretty dresses".

As a late lunch, we choose Yum Cha/Dim Sum - another first time experience for the kids. Not sure how good it is for the wasit-line but enjoyable all the same. Then back to the hotel pool for the rest of the afternoon and a home-cooked dinner.

Day 18: Sat 2/1/10

We're getting smarter at this - no workouts before theme parks - too tiring!!
Anyway, today we were all excited about going to Dreamworld. We'd bought a 2 day World Pass which would give us access to move freely between both Dreamworld and Whitewater World today and again on another day of our choice. Again, for full details see separate blog (coming soon). I will say however that we found Dreamworld and Whitewater World to be the outstanding best experience of our Gold Coast trip and I'm sure we will come back in a few years and do it all again. eh? Didn't Michelle say she "hates" roller coasters? Yep she did, but that was before... now it's AWESOME!

Day 19: Sun 3/1/10

Theme park rest day, with electrical storms predicted at lunchtime. We took the kids to the movies and had to endure sitting through "Alvin & the Chipmunks - The Squeakquel (ahh!). With not many other options on at the movies (Princess and the Frog etc) I think that will be the end of kids movie sessions for us this holidays.

Day 20: Mon 4/1/10

We couldn't wait to get back to Dreamworld/Whitewater world and booked our Q4U console (for more info see separate blog - coming soon). This time, David & Leah completed all 6 of the Big Thrill Rides, I did 5 (I can do without the Claw), and Chardae did an impressive 4 (not Claw or Wipeout). They had a few rides get stuck - in fact David and I were up in the air on the first ride of the day on the Wipeout when it stopped and was stuck in a misaligned position. 10mins later "Engineering" came and let us down and gave us a free ride - no one took them up on the offer!! LOL

Day 21: Tues 5/1/10

Another well -earned rest day from the theme parks with good weather so we took the car for a drive south down the coast to Burleigh and enjoyed watching excellent waves, eating ice-cream, sipping on coffee, walking around the headland, playing in the park etc. We moved on to Currumbin and all had a swim at the inlet, then drove onto Coolangatta where we enjoyed a goregous seafood lunch at Crave @ Coolangatta Hotel. We'd come to the end of our energy for the day so simply drove back to our hotel and flopped in the pool. This is holidays after all!

Day 22: Wed 6/1/10

Today, with a pang of sadness we checked out of Ocean Pacific Resort Broadbeach. But we had not had enough of the theme parks so headed straight for Wet n' Wild (which wasn't on our original itinerary but we were all having so much fun on the water slides we just couldn't resist it). After a full day of the waterpark, we did a quick change in the carpark and headed north through Brisbane and onto Tanawha near Buderim where Kerry Wynn lives, who was putting us up for the next 3 nights.

Day 23: Thurs 7/1/10

Now, our friend Kerry is a funny character and I mean that in the nicest possible way. You could call him "Action Man", "Mr Busy", "Mr Go" or any number of variances on the theme. Quite simply, Kerry is unstoppable. He'd been harrassing me for weeks before we arrived trying to devise an action-packed schedule of events. I'd heard "running King of the Mountain", something about another "Mt Cooroora" that raised eyebrows and funny looks from his 3 teenage kids. We also heard about Cooloola Sand Patch and a day out 4WDing, plus "Harry's Hut". I heard we can go extreme or relaxed - just tell us what you want to do. Well, we arrived tired, and exhausted and really could have just done with a day to sleep but we didn't want to offend our most accommodating hosts so agreed to be led "wherever you like Kerry, it's up to you, we're always up for an adventure!".

So, the day starts with making a packed lunch, loading the Patrol including teenage daughter no. 2 and we're off. We drove through Pomona, then on past Kin Kin up the Cooloola Way when it starts to rain as we air down tyres. We end up at Harry's Hut alongside a beautiful river (Noosa River) that is warm but its raining - its morning and we continue on. Further up the Cooloola Way we end up at a wonderful bend in the river just perfect for a stop (Upper Noosa River). It's raining but we have a makeshift lunch and the kids start mucking about. Teenager daughter no. 2 starts to practise her bush skills and attempts to make a small campfire in the rain. She tries all sorts of tinder to no avail then gets out the portable butane gas stove and drives tinder before making her fire. The fire lights but wont hold. Adults become intrigued - "we can do it"... I suggest strips of paperbark tree but the trees are already too wet - its been raining for days. Eventually I find a tree with different bark but peels like paperbark but is dry - and it works.. fire's going. We stand around it wet & cold trying to warm up before we get back in the Patrol.

We're a few hours drive yet to reach the Cooloola Sand Patch Kerry warns we've killed so much of the day here that our plan to climb Cooloola for sunset will be a tough call if we don't get going. Pile the kids in and off we go taking the Western Firebreak towards the beach. Kerry is surprised to find the "shortcut" route he was going to avoid is "open". We pass through the gate and Kerry tells us tales of how bad he's seen it in the past, impassible etc. David says "let's keep going til it gets to that", all the while Kerry is saying "wow, I've never seen this track so good - someone's upgraded it". The track continues to the end without incident and we rejoin the main track. A few hours later we're deep in the bush around the Noosa River following sandy tracks that lead who knows where, comfortable that Kerry and teenager daughter no. 2 have done this 50 times before! they love it, so we allow ourselves to be lead further and further ...somewhere. And then we descend a steep, rutted track that pops out onto familiar territory - Rainbow Beach! Gosh, we haven't been on this stretch of beach for 12 years but it was familar all the same. The sun was starting to set and Kerry starts to tell us that our destination is not far ahead but then we have a big walk - do we think Chardae can make it? We drive south along the beach passing zillions of campers setup against the dunes, families on school holidays huddling together out of the bad weather. Not going to be much of a sunset tonight but we carry on until Kerry finds just the spot and we stop. Pack a couple of backpacks with water, our picnic food and then he says, "its a bit of a walk through the bush until we come to the sandpatch then you wont need your shoes, so yeah, leave them behind, we've got enough to carry". Then he packs torches, a tarp, and a gps. We head off and Kerry and teenage daughter no. 2 start to exclaim "that's strange, wow look at that, where's the path, its not normally like this"... They can't find the path but we continue on, picking our own path through dense scrub. The bush has been completely blackened by November fires, and then the recent floods has totally washed away the walk trail with debris. Our bare feet strike sharp shoots and Chardae is swiftly hoisted upon adult shoulders and we continue on. Any hope of walking along a path are gone but Kerry is confident of where he's going so we follow and somehow, just as the sun is slipping we reach the top only to see a huge expanse of sand like a sahara desert. It's a fascinating place all the same and we continue to walk on - heading up the whole time. It's quite a work out and we all enjoy it for the sense of what we're about to see but then Kerry says "we're here" and we look at across the top of this mammoth sandpatch and we can see nothing - we're fogged in by damp clouds and an ever-threatening dark sky so we agree to just sit and have a hurried picnic dinner.

And then the inevitable happens - the thunder claps, the lightning strikes (just after Kerry shows us what lightning does to sand) and Chardae starts screaming and panicking. Poor little thing. The night engulfed us swiftly, the wind blew and our soaked bodies wearing nothing but swimmers, boardshorts, sarongs etc were shivering. Kerry pulled out a woolen shirt and a tarp and we wrapped up Chardae and we were all given torches to pick our way back down. I guess we took about 1 hr to walk up however we took about double that to get down. The path we'd taken up was not to be found, we picked our way over harsh spikes that with downhill pressure caused intolerable pain (worse for Kerry and David that took turns carrying 23kg Chardae). Leah didn't complain once, but eventually got a piggy back from teenage daughter no. 2 who seemed as strong as an ox - but a tiny whip of a girl - clearly a product of her adventurous father - tough as nails! Some of the torch batteries started to wan and we were all simply hanging on hoping we'd come to the end soon. There were moments when the reality of this situation flashed into my mind - we are stumbling in the dark, wet and cold with young kids - let's hope no one hurts themselves. Phones out of service in the dense overgrowth and the howling wind unsettling. Some people wouldn't make it out of here for sheer panic but with a clear head and very careful footing and togetherness we did make it out together unscathed but battered, torn and black from the burnt trees that stained our feet, our clothes, our faces, everything. Reaching the sea and the vehicle was such a relief. But can you believe it? The kids simply turned on their Nintendo DS screens and played happily the whole way back to Noosa down the beach, across the Tewantin Ferry at 9.30pm and back to Tanawha when even the adults collapsed exhausted into our beds at 10.30pm. An interesting day that reminds us how easily things can unravel. Common sense, safety equipment, spares, food, clothing, communications - always keep your group together. Basic stuff but so important.

Day 24: Fri 8/1/10

Kerry was up at the crack of dawn - I couldn't believe it. I felt bleep tered, as did David. We were meant to be thrilled to be going to Australia Zoo - the number 1 park on our list yet to do but no one had the energy to feel like it. We had no choice as we leave tomorrow so off we went for another early start to a huge day walking around a zoo... in the humidity we'd come to find rather tiresome. Australia Zoo was wonderful but for a full review see separate blog (coming soon). The kids were thrilled to see the Bindi show - "I can't believe she's real", Chardae kept saying. The Tigers were very entertaining but the whole place seemed to large and spread out for our exhausted bodies to cope with.

In some ways, we were happy when the day was over and got back to Kerry's to enjoy sundowner drinks and nibbles on the green of the property fringing the river. Sundowners soon lead to a great bbq fry up, quite a few drinks, and then the rain poored down like it was the monsoon season. Teenager daughter no. 1 had the great idea to suddenly jump up suggesting a run in the rain - it must have been 10pm, but not to be outdone David and I pulled on our running shoes, Kerry thrust torches into our hands and then we all took off. She tried to trick up into running head on into a dam, but we outran her up the hill and quickly fell into the running rhythm. With a big sprint at the end David, Kerry and I flew into the property just as Kerry's teenage boy returned home and we fell about laughing at our silliness.

Day 25: Sat 9/1/10

Kerry's up again at the crack of dawn - "what adventures do you want today?" uh? ohhh - "how about sitting at a coffee shop at Mooloolaba" I say. Ok, and we're off. Surf's up big so we all splash about catching waves before stumbling into the coffee shop and stuffing our faces (well, me anyway) on a morning tea scone with jam and cream!

Kerry says, "we've got some time before you've got to head back to the airport so let's have a bit more of a tour around..." Off we head in the Patrol to Buderim Forest Park and find the most delightful rainforest boardwalk. The kids spot other kids walking up the stony river off the path and begged to be allowed to do the same. We let them - they love it. The boardwalk ends but the path leads on and Kerry says "it's really worth heading up to the waterfall" so we continue further on. It is indeed beautiful and we enjoy hours in the rock pools before turning around and walking back to the vehicle to discover we've been in "Martin's Creek" !

By the time we arrive back at Kerry's, we have about 2 hours before we need to leave for Brisbane airport and the girls wish to go horseriding. Kerry's eldest teenage daughter is a horsey-mad girl who has people agisting their horses on the property along with her own beautiful grey mare Xena. She gives Chardae and Leah her undivided attention to tacking up her horse and lots of time in the saddle. Even I break my own rule never to ride again. Xena is indeed a lovely horse.

Before long we realise we only have about 40mins to wash, pack bags and get into the hire car to drive back to Brisbane. "You shouldn't have any traffic problems, but if you do...." another shortcut story... thankfully, its all good driving and we return the hire car, check in to our flight and settle down for a 6 hour flight back to Perth - where we'll arrive with a time change at 11pm and not be in our own beds till about 1am thoroughly exhausted but totally happy with our fantastic Martin family east coast trip - of a very different kind.
David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
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Always working not enough travelling!
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