Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sunday on "Straddy" in Queensland

Another full play-day! Yay! Although we arrived in Brisbane late in the day on Saturday, we tried ringing up a few 4WD tour companies who take folks out to the coastal islands. I got lots of answering machines, but finally hit real human beings at North Stradbroke Island 4WD ( Although they had just cancelled their Sunday trip due to lack of bookings, they kindly gave us the number for Stradbroke Island Beach Tours ( I was appreciative that a kindly woman answered the phone and yes, they could squeeze us in the next day. We would be a little tight in the 4WD, but we would get out to “Straddy.” She said her husband would pick us up, as she was just about to have a baby!

At 7:45 Jason in bright yellow picked us up. We picked up 8 other people then headed towards Cleveland to pick up the Stradbroke ferry. Jason filled us in on his wife – she is having a Cesarean on Monday… their third baby. Congrats!

Our fellow travelers were a family from Japan, currently living in Malaysia with two beautiful young daughters, Roi from Shanghai and three life long friends on a 3 months vacation of a lifetime in Australia. It was jolly from the get-go and Jason’s enthusiasm and local knowledge kept us bubbling and BUMPING along. On the way to the ferry we stopped at a small pocket park where Jason pointed out a Koala in a tree – our first sighting. Then we bounced across the bay (HIGH winds) with tea and Anzac Biscuits set out on a folding table in back of the vehicle. It was a treat.

We traveled up over the island, bumping and giggling over sandy tracks, saw the rare Grass Tree, Banksias, Kookaburras and various other flora and fauna. We visited the tea lakes, turned brown from the Tea Tree (Melaleauca? Sp?) tannins. Then it was down to the Pacific coast to see crashing waves, sea birds and dig pippies (surf clams) with our toes. I was the only one to join Jason and remember, never turn your back to the sea. I was wet from the waist down, but the heavy winds blew me dry in no time. We then drove up to the northern headlands to take a cliff walk where, in calm seas, one spots whales, dolphin, mantas and sea turtles. But the sea was churned to a mass of white water, so we simply enjoyed the sound and the fury. Then back to a sheltered cove for a beach BBQ where Jason threw the pippies on the barbie with a bit of white wine. Mmm. Pippies, cockles or surf clams - pick your favorite name

On the way home on the ferry, it was discovered we had a flat. So we walked off the ferry while Jason carefully drove it off and we cheered him on as he changed the tire. Then back to town. Quite a day. Thank you Jason and Stradbroke Island Beach Tours. If you ever go their way, spend the day with them!

(Pictures here)

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