March 9 Gold Coast – Brisbane – Beerwah
With our Mission accomplished, it was time to pack up our tent, load up our trusty Blu and hit the road again! But first, it was back to Movie World, so that Zach could have one last fling on the big 3 coasters.
With our final adrenalin fix sorted, we cruised up the Bruce Highway to Brisbane. We had thought to stop and visit South Bank on the way through, but first we needed to put our vote in for the WA state election that we hadn’t even realised was on until 2 days before! After battling our way into the city centre and eventually finding a parking spot that Blu would just shoehorn into, we had lost most of the afternoon and all appetite for cities, so we plotted a course north and headed out to camp in the shadow of Beerwah in the Glasshouse Mountains.
March 10 Beerwah – Sunshine Coast
The Sunshine Coast was my family’s favourite holiday spot while I was growing up in QLD, so I had a few old memories I wanted to revisit and share with my family as we headed through. The first on the list was the Big Pineapple, as a kid, this was the place we went to for a special treat, complete with Icecream Sundaes and train rides through the plantation and rainforest. Sadly, we arrived to find it a shadow of it’s former self. While the Pineapple itself is still impressive and the kids had a great time learning about the pineapple farming process from the displays inside (the same ones that were there when I used to climb it), the gift shop and cafe are all closed up and there is only a small kiosk out the front.
We just missed the train through the very run down looking plantation and with nothing to do for the next half hour until it returned, we decided to keep on moving. It is worth noting that the new owners have redevelopment plans in the works, so hopefully it will soon be as busy and thriving as I remember it!
We then headed on to a newer attraction that didn’t exist back in the day… The Ginger Factory in Yandina. This is a much more up to date attraction that actually felt a lot like I remember the Pineapple complex being like growing up. We had a look around and sampled some of the Budrim Ginger products but didn’t go on any of the rides (After being spoiled on the Gold Coast for a week, they all seemed very expensive for what they were!) before heading across the road to the Nutworks Macadamia and Chocolate factory.
The kids got an unshelled Macadamia each from a gumball machine and ran it through a small automatic nutcracker. I have never heard such a loud bang come out of such a small machine… It made us all jump on the first one! After some more sampling of all kinds of different flavours of Macadamias (Abalone anyone? The taste was as odd as you’re probably thinking) we left with half a kilo of factory seconds Honey Roasted, Chocolate Coated Macadamias for $8. The standard packs were selling for $30 per 200g!
We drove down the Maroochydore foreshore and paused to have a look at the Beachfront Towers, where my Nan and Pa owned a holiday unit while I was growing up. Chatting with the current managers, there was one room available. On the spur of the moment, we splurged a bit and booked in for the night. The kids were very excited to be staying in a high rise overlooking the ocean and this was only superseded by their excitement to have a full sized TV with a couch in front of it for the first time in months!
We paused and soaked in the view while the kids sat mesmerised by ABC 2 for a few minutes then it was time for lunch at Sizzler (Another memory from my childhood) before a trip to the beach at Mooloolaba for some bodysurfing in the Pacific waves! Zach and I had a great time in the surf, while Chelle and Rissa played and splashed closer to shore.
Slightly further around the coast we spent a half hour or so shelling, we would have spent longer but the tide was coming in and the best areas to find shells were not safe to explore. Nonetheless, Clarissa found 2 small cowrie shells, our first of the trip!
We headed back for a swim in the units pool, which hasn’t changed a bit in over 20 years but is still in great condition, then upstairs for to make the most of that big TV and couch! Surf’s Up for the kids, followed by Now You See Me for Chelle and I rounded out a great day on the Sunshine Coast!
March 11 Sunshine Coast – Eumundi – Gympie
Our alarms went off at 6:30 am to wake us up so we could be ready to head to the markets at Eumundi. We have not needed them much on the trip, however, we figured that with a real bed and walls some form of wake up call would be essential!
We were right! By the time we hauled ourselves out of bed it was 7:30! We raced around folding and sorting clothes that Chelle had washed while we had access to a free washing machine, then took everything downstairs and loaded Blu back up… It is funny how much a routine improves efficiency, with the whole tent and beds/chairs/table/kitchen we are usually packed, breakfasted and ready to hit the road an hour after waking up… With just clothes, pillows and a couple of bits of food, it took us almost 2 hours!
When we finally got to Eumundi, the markets didn’t disappoint, as you may have noticed from previous pots, all of us love wandering through a good market and these ones are still very true to their origins with a slogan “Make It, Bake It, Sew It, Grow It”. It felt like the market filled the town with any space not taken by stalls filled with parked cars or people! But even as busy as it was it had a laid back county vibe that was missing from the bustle of the Queen Victoria and Salamanca Markets.
While we were there, Blu had his caricature sketched and we picked up a few bits and pieces before we headed north to our camp for the night, 9 Mile Cobb & Co.
Situated at the 9 mile mark of the old Cobb & Co route from Noosa to Gympie, this family focused campground was amazing! It had a petting zoo, giant pirate ship sand pit, 2 flying foxes, forts, bike tracks, swimming hole and more… It was a great place to stop while we explored my old hometown of Gympie.
Even on a mid-term weekend it was very busy without feeling crowded, although one of the groups had 20 kids younger than Clarissa singing the Hokey Pokey at the top of their lungs at 8:30 at night… Who does that?!
March 12 Gympie & Noosa
Sunday morning, time to freshen up and spend some time with God’s people! While we have visited many very different churches on this trip and enjoyed worshipping with all of them, this Sunday was one I was particularly looking forward to, it’s been years since I visited Gympie Church of Christ, the church we attended for most of my primary school years and I was looking forward to seeing some familiar (if older) faces.
Although the outside looked almost the same as I remember, with the exception of landscaping and an extension of the back hall that now takes up most of the backyard of the manse we grew up in, inside the church has been completely updated. Gone are the timber pews and floor, electric organ and piano, replaced by carpet and white walls and projection and a small worship band. It was a great service and it was good to fellowship with and introduce Chelle and the kids to people I haven’t seen in over 20 years who mostly remember me looking pretty much like Zach with curly hair!
We stopped in at the corner store where we used to spend our pocket money so the kids could get some lollies, grabbed pies from Tramcars Bakery (another old family tradition) and headed out to check out some of the other places I remember around town…
While somethings have changed incredibly, others still felt remarkably familiar! It was particularly good to see the school Mum and Dad were involved in starting, thriving at its new and expansive campus, a far cry from the homestead where it began with 50 students!
With the day feeling very hot and humid, heading to Noosa to spend the afternoon in the ocean sounded like a great idea, so we pointed south and were soon wading into the warm pacific waters again. The Bluebottle signs were out, but we braved it anyway and didn’t see any, and only 1 girl walked out holding her arm out of the hundreds of swimmers in the water.
Cooled down and tired, we headed back to 9 Mile to find it had completely emptied out and it was just us and an older couple left in the whole place… A nice peaceful end to my nostalgic few days… Tomorrow was going to be a whole new adventure!