Dorothy Goes to Oz

Financing for our Australian trip to celebrate Dorothy’s graduation in ultrasound came from a set of lectures I gave in Brisbane at the ACSPRI winter conference. We flew from LAX to Brisbane nonstop where we visited Frank Miller whom I’d gone to school with from 7th grade through my sophomore college year.

Brisbane is a river city, and the trip up and down the river I took each day aboard the CityCat to teach was pure joy. Not a place one would want to live though because of the truly dangerous smog.
While I taught, Dorothy visited the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary home to 48 koalas.

Yech. Eucalyptus Breath.
and a truly strange bird.
She also spent time visiting Brisbane’s art galleries and museums

and visiting an old friend who lived next door in the 60’s.

The ACSPRI group had two grand banquets but the balance of the time we took advantage of the kitchen in our suite at the Riverside Motel.

When the course ended, we took a city train to Nambour, where Sue and Leon Butcher met us and brought us to the
Run Around Sioux dance group. We taught a brief lesson in the West Coast Swing and then on to our motel, At The Sound. The latter had kitchen and washing machine/dryer in the room itself. We walked about Noosa Head, a decaying overcrowded tourist spot, then visited a Woolies’s (Woolworths) to do some grocery (yep, grocery) shopping.
The city bus that was to take us to Nambour and the Tilt Train the next morning failed to put in an appearance so we took a taxi ($55). Our driver loves to correspond on the Internet. Send an email to Nambour is dying a slow death, as are the surrounding farmers with the closing of the sugar mill. In Nambour we gathered provisions for the train ride. Despite the hype and on-board movies, the Tilt Train is slow and has few amenities. The woods we passed through seemed not unlike that of California. In Rockhampton (aka Rocky) we were met by a van from the hostel. To our surprise the hostel was extremely quiet. We’d signed up for the Great Keppel Island Escape, and the next morning after a walk to Woolies for provisions, we took a ferry to the island and the cabin in which we were to spend the next two nights. (Alas, forgot extra batteries for our camera.) The snorkeling at Shelving Beach was awesome: saw a sea turtle and many different types of corals, but water was cold. We wore wet suits and were amazed at the number of Aussies who went in without them. We learned a couple of Aussie expressions such as "beach path" for "streambed." A very cold cuddly night was followed by a long hike up a cliff top and down a beach path to Monkey Beach (should be called Make-Out Beach because of the honeymooners) and even more impressive snorkeling than the day before. Still we signed up for an early return ferry the next day: too cold.
Picked up a rental car, a heavy gas consuming Nissan Pulsar in Rocky. Dorothy soon proved the superior at handling a right-hand drive only fumbling when it came to the turn signal. My left hand had trouble with the manual gear shift. Fortunately, our initial destination, Emu Park, was a mere hour away. Our self-contained cabins at the Sun Lovers Lodge was next to a walking beach with an extra quarter-mile of hard-packed sand at low tide.
Headed North the next day through the cane fields to warmer weather. Spent the night in a Finch Hatton Gorgeself-contained cabin and quickly signed up to spend a second night there. (Hint: Great place to spend your honeymoon.)
Next morning we walked up the mountain to Wheel of Fire Falls and that same day drove to the other end of Eungella National Park hoping yet again to see the elusive platypus.
A short drive the next day took us to Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Organic Bed and Breakfast. From a myriad of one-day and multi-day snorkeling trips, we chose DiveTime with better than hoped for results. They supplied wet suits (thicker than ours) and weight belts in addition to standard snorkel gear, and took us to three spots off Hook Island in the Whitsundays where we saw soft corals we’d never dreamed existed.
Notable among the fish was the hump-headed Maori Wrasse. Fantastic lunch of grilled fish (or maybe we just had super appetites from the diving). Back at the dock, a friendly realtor showed us several unusual properties.

The trip homeward began the next day with a long exhausting drive south that ended at the Wild Scotsman Motor Inn in Gin Gin. A realtor took us the next morning on a tour of a nearby Eco(logical) Park home to numerous ex-hippies. Then Dorothy put on a business suit and we drove to Hervey Bay for her job interview.
Only the bats could really care for the polluted waters of Hervey Bay where we stayed for two nights at the down-at-heels Konduri Resort definitely the worst and worst smelling accommodation of our trip.
A Hervey Bay realtor referred us to a Maryborough realtor who referred us to a Tin Can Bay realtor.

Tin Can is a stone's throw across a sandy channel from Fraser Island. The realtor pointed us inland to a spot where a chap we met suggested we check out a nearby farm. We loved it—see photos, and after a lengthy chat with the owner headed out to talk to a solicitor about its purchase.
Drove back to Brisbane that same day. Our final night, we stayed in one of Accor’s new Formula1 motels, just $54 and three minutes from the airport.