Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sydney or Bust...

We have made it to the Gold Coast but with just three days left including today were going to start booking it down to Sydney so we are sure to see the city a little. This morning I lightened the load a little also by selling my scuba tanks and scuba gear that I had been lugging around to a guy here. Also, for a little excitement, this morning we noticed we have a flat tire which we have to change out before leaving. Yesterday we thought we heard a little bump bump bump in our ride and this morning revealed that the back tire was totally bald and wore right through leaking out completely overnight. The adventure continues. For brevity's sake, here are some of the highlights of the last six days....

On Monday, realizing at 2pm that there was a red dress hash run on the Sunshine coast that started at 6:15. We ran to the salvation army, bought some red dresses and drove 4 hours straight there to participate. We were fortunate to meet Dave there 'Skunk' who graciously offered to put us up for the night at his apartment AND in the morning gave us a grand tour of Moloolaba beach and pretty much the entire sunshine coast. Afterwards, he helped us break into the car to retrieve the car keys that were left on the passenger seat. oops. We had a great time enjoying the company of the Noosa and Sunshine Coast hash groups and raising money for a local cancer hospital to boot! The photo at left is courtesy of the Noosa hash group website.

Tuesday, afternoon we picked up some fish and chips form a fresh fish market on the water in Maloolaba (delicious) and later stopped into an info booth where we found a pamphlet with 2 free camping spots we weren't aware of. Did I mention it was raining. Yes, our stay with Dave coincided wonderfully with the first rain we have had while camping. But Tuesday night we were on our own and heading out of town we stopped to check out the free camping rest stop. We arrived in drizzle and found a picnic table shelter which our tent just perfectly fit under. Around midnight i awoke to hear someone blowing up an air mattress and they set up right beside our tent and we were happy to share the shelter.

In the morning we met Murray, a local Brisbanian who has been travelling recently out of his car (like us) and is planning a trip to the US and asked us many questions about hiking trails such as the Appalachian trail and places out west generally revealing how badly we know the geography of our own country. Hope to work on that when i get back some time. He gave us some great tips on what to see in Brisbane as well as some places to camp. He told us about the Ekka, a huge state fair that was going on this week, and recommended we drive out to Mt. Glorious.

Wednesday we had a day at the Australia Zoo. Founded by Steve Irwin's dad in 1972, the zoo was celebrating its 40th year and Steve Irwin and the Irwin family is a big deal in the zoo to put it lightly. Posters of Steve, Bindi, Terry and even a bronze statue of the family adorn the park. We really enjoyed the Koalas, the Tiger show, feeding the elephants, petting Kangaroos, and watching a huge crocodile get fed by a very scared looking "trainer" in a giant fenced in ring called the Crocoseum. After the zoo we picked up some chow in Beerwah, Steve Irwin's home town, before returning to the same free camp spot and another night in the dry shelter with Murray.

In the morning, Murray suggested that we climb Mt. Tibrogargan and offered to be our guide so to speak as he has climbed it dozens of times. We got there early and climbed to the top which looks daunting on the way up but in the end wasn't all that bad despite a few bouldering sessions and rock faces along the way. The view of the Glass House Mountains (named by none other than Captain Cook) from the top was well worth it.

After the climb we parted ways but not before we tasted some Vegemite that Murray had in his car. We had been wanting to try it but didn't want to to spring for a whole jar. We drove down into Brisbane and found ourselves getting chewed up by one way streets, traffic light, and bustling city centers. Finally we pulled into a parking spot and took some deep breaths. We payed for an hour and walked around the botanical gardens (really more of a large park) and decided to try and make the Brisbane Thirsty Hash run that evening at 6pm. For 17 dollars we got to run with the hash (about 5k on the road) and enjoy some good company around a campfire in the hosts backyard as well as all the lamb curry and rice we could eat. They even sent us home with 3 trays of it.

At the hash we met Waga Rod, (real name Rod). This guy was 65 years old, from Australia, and in September him and his wife are travelling to the US so that he can participate in the Double Decathalon (thats 20 track and field events in 2 days) at the 2010 Ultra Muli Events World Championship in Lynchburg, Virgina. Needless to say this guy was in shape and blew right past us on the hash run (before beer, in case you were wondering). After the run he got word that our plan that evening was to drive out toward Mt. Glorious and camp "somewhere". "THATS BULLSHIT!" Rod exclaimed. "Your coming home with me!", "Your in my country, you'll do what I say!". To which we replied, "yes SIR".

We stayed up Rod and his wife talking about our travels and Will was an endless source of information for them being a DC local. Their US tour will include, Washington DC, Lynchburg, VA (of course), New York, Niagara Falls, and Vegas. Will gave them the low down on the cheap air fare into DC and what to do in the city. We are so greatfull for their hospitality and wish Rod all the best in Virginia.

Friday Morning we drove up to Mt. Glorious and discovered not too surprisingly that that it is indeed appropriately named. Beautiful views, winding mountain roads and thick forest resembled a drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina except that they are only 20 minutes drive away from Brisbane City Center!

We went back into the heart of Brisbane and found a cheap hostel with free parking and a free shuttle to the train station. We got tickets for the Ekka and spent the rest of the day wandering around the maze of rides, food stands, cattle, sheep, and various judging events. The Ekka's is all about "bringing the bush to the city" and cattle, sheep, and horses are a large part of the event. Our favorites included the Wood chop competition, Monster Truck, Precision driving demonstration, dirt bike jumping in the arena, and the fireworks display. Also of note... a corndog in Australia is called a dagwood dog and tastes about the same...delicious! and cotton candy is called Fairy Floss. Whatever.

On Saturday, we checked out of the Hostel but were able to leave our car there and went to check out the Queensland Museum (which is FREE). The coolest exhibit, i had while camping. But Tuesdayloor almost hidden amongst other museumy things still boxed up waiting to be put on display. It's called the 'Investigator Tree' this tree (now just a trunk) is on display because of what is carved into it. Namely the words 'INVESTIGATOR' and 'BEAGLE 1841'. This Investigator was an Australian survey ship which, in 1801, traveled along the coast of Australia under the command of Matthew Flinders. He carved the ships name into this very trunk! But thats not all. The Beagle of course is the famous ship which carried Charles Darwin across the Pacific and to the Galapagos where his famed work on evolution has it's beginnings. In 1841 however, the Beagle had already done this and Captain Fitzroy was off governing New Zealand or something. Whickam and Stokes were in command for the survey mission of Australia on the Beagle for it's third trip out and they added their vessel's name to the great tree. Also on the tree were found..."a large number of other names, including some dating from A.C. Gregory's North Australian Expedition in 1856, and some from the Burke and Wills Search Expedition under William Landsborough in 1861". It is debatable if the carvings seen today are the original ones. Likely, they have been re-carved to preserve but it's still freaking cool nonetheless as far as I'm concerned. You can read more about it here: The Investigator Tree.

After the Museum we got our internet fix a the Brisbane Library before heading back to the hostel and getting out of dodge. We found lodging in a hostel on the Gold Coast at Surfers Paradise but were not staying here long as we still have about 900km to cover to get to Sydney. Time to go change a tire.

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