2016 Big Maroochydore Adventure

Day 85 – Last Day at Cotton Tree, Maroochydore

Today is our last day at Cotton Tree, Maroochydore.  We’ve delayed our departure several times, and looking at the weather forecast we would love to stay here longer, but sadly all good things must come to an end and it is time to head home to Melbourne.  We won’t exactly be rushing though, and hope to explore new territory and have some new adventures along the way.

Needless to say we have been having a great time.  The weather has been almost perfect most days with a few cold mornings and only a couple of nights of rain.  Did I say we’d love to stay here a bit longer?

One of my big adventures earlier this month was to visit the annual Ford Performance Car show held at the local Ford dealer.  There was a huge turnout with a great combination of classic Fords and newer FPV Falcons and several examples of the new Mustang.  The oldest Australian Ford on display was a 1965 XM Falcon and there was an example of every model of Falcon since then (only missing the earlier XK and XL models to have a complete set)!

1965 Ford Falcons at the Performance Car Show

1965 Ford Falcons at the Performance Car Show

Ford Muscle Cars at the Performance Car Show

Ford Muscle Cars at the Performance Car Show

New RHD Ford Mustang - fully optioned

New RHD Ford Mustang – fully optioned

If you’re interested in seeing more photos from the Ford Performance Car Show please click here to visit my Classic Car Photography website.

We seem to be very much in fun season and last weekend many roads in the Maroochydore and surrounding areas were closed for a huge fun run and we enjoyed a front row seat sitting back with our coffee while young and old huffed and puffed past.

Last Sunday night we enjoyed a larger than usual happy hour gathering to say farewell to Mr and Mrs Downunda who set off home very early on Monday morning.

As is our habit, we have done a lot of walking around Cotton Tree and Maroochydore.  In fact we have probably explored more of the local area on foot than we ever did on any of our previous visits.  We have found some very interesting retail outlets and an amazing range of cafes and restaurants (yes – we love our coffee but we try to do at least 10,000 steps each day to compensate).

Still, it is a bit difficult to go everywhere on foot or by public transport so we went back to Budget to hire a car and again we were upgraded to the very nice Nissan X-Trail.  We had been accumulating a list of shops and other places to visit so with our list, map and GPS in hand we set off.

Last Tuesday we had lunch at the Buderim Tavern.  We’ve been there before and the mountain goat like scramble up from the lower carpark is definitely worth the effort with delicious meals and views to die for.  Buderim is quite high, in Queensland terms, and a bit hilly, but we enjoyed a good walk around town and a nice coffee at Café Buderim.  On the way back home we made a couple of stops including a very interesting camping shop before arriving home just in time for happy hour.

The weather for the following day looked very threatening but never-the-less we headed north to Eumundi to visit the markets.  We had a good walk around the older and newer halves of the market but there were a few vacant sites where stallholders could perhaps read the weather better than we could.  Prior experience had shown that the weather gets hot and humid before storms, and that was how it was on Wednesday.  After a delicious lunch at the air-conditioned Fig Tree Restaurant in the main street, we started to walk up the hill to the old, original market when the rain started.

Eumundi

Eumundi

After a quick, wet dash back to the car we headed down the Sunshine Motorway to the Coolum exit – we weren’t ready to go home yet!  We went for a very interesting drive along a narrow winding road through cane fields and a variety of different homes, from older Queenslanders to modern luxury estates, ending at Coolum Beach.

The road to Coolum Beach

The road to Coolum Beach

Arriving at Coolum Beach

Arriving at Coolum Beach

The sky was still dark but it wasn’t raining so we set off for a good walk around town.  Before long we had stopped to indulge in a favourite flavour combination coconut and lime gelato ice-cream (to escape the light rain of course).  The rain eased so we walked by the caravan park which looked quite inviting being right on the beach and very well maintained with modern amenities.  Still fine so we walked along the cliff top and caught sight of quite a few surfers enjoying the choppy seas.  The yellow and red flags appeared to be only a couple of metres apart though!

Surfing in the rain at Coolum Beach

Surfing in the rain at Coolum Beach

We have noticed that the Sunshine Coast councils are constantly tending and refreshing the gardens and park lands which makes it very pleasant for walkers like us.  Eventually we felt weary and wet enough to head home.

Still not done with the hire car, on Thursday we drove down to Caloundra.  The weather was much better and we had a good walk around town, this time without the Sunday market stalls, before stopping at a Thai restaurant right on the beach front.  Apart from the views, we were fascinated by some fishermen right in front of us.  They seemed to be walking backwards and forwards along the water-front with unusually long and colourful jigs on their lines.  It turned out they were fishing for “black fish” and had been quite successful that day.  After another walk we headed back to Maroochydore to return the hire car.

Views of Caloundra

Views of Caloundra

Fishing at Caloundra

Fishing at Caloundra

Yesterday there was another fun run, this time in support of Juvenile Diabetes.  The local park had marquees and gazebos, coffee van, fairy floss machines, live music, game and activities, and hundreds of kids enjoying themselves for a good cause.  Fiona the policewoman was very popular with her police car delighting all the children with siren demonstrations and photo opportunities in the police car.  The weather was perfect and apart from the fun run there were families out everywhere enjoying the day!

Fun in the park at Cotton Tree

Fun in the park at Cotton Tree

This morning we started the packing up process before joining fellow Victorians Sue and Glenn for lunch at the North Shore Tavern.  Wow!  Talk about value for money!  Great food, great company, perfect weather – what’s not to love!?  Still not really committed to packing up, we joined Sue and Glenn for coffee at The Coffee Club across the road from the caravan park.  Lucky it’s so easy to pack Bertha ready for tomorrow’s departure, because we would otherwise fail!

Fantastic seafood from the Boatshed Restaurant next to the caravan park

Fantastic seafood from the Boatshed Restaurant next to the caravan park

We have relaxed to the point of unravelling over the past few months and have enjoyed loads of fresh, fantastic seafood.  This really is a fantastic destination and we have already secured a booking for next year.

Categories: 2016 Big Maroochydore Adventure | Tags: , , , ,

Day 67 – Mooloolaba

The weather was looking promising this morning so after breakfast we walked 150 metres or so into the Cotton Tree shopping centre to catch the 600 bus into Mooloolaba. Theoretically we could have walked there but we had decided to use our energy walking around Mooloolaba rather than walking to Mooloolaba. We’d driven through Mooloolaba several times in the past but had never had an opportunity to actually have a walk around.

After a 10 minute bus trip we were at our destination.  The main drag was very busy and obviously popular with visitors.  Each of the high rise apartment blocks has one or more cafes at ground level and chairs and tables all over the footpath.  We certainly had plenty of choices for coffee and after a bit of a wander around we settled on Entice Café.  The coffee was very good and we had a good view of the water, but there were people everywhere and it wasn’t exactly restful.

From Entice we crossed over the road to have a wander along the beach.  It’s a bit unusual to comment but the structure around the public toilet block was very impressive with timber and stone, a couple of huge taps that were actually outdoor showers, seats and benches, and there was a children’s play area, and so on.

Scenes at Mooloolaba beach

Scenes at Mooloolaba beach

Shorty at Mooloolaba

Shorty at Mooloolaba

The views along the beach were also impressive.  We could look out towards Point Cartwright in one direction and back towards Maroochydore in the opposite direction.  The lifesavers were on duty but it was interesting to note that the flags were only about 10 metres apart.  There were still a few people in the water though.

Beach views - Maroochydore in one direction and Point Cartwright in the other

Beach views – Maroochydore in one direction and Point Cartwright in the other

After a good look at the Mooloolaba beach we headed for a walk along The Spit.  It was a very pleasant walk in dappled shade but eventually we headed back towards civilisation.

Very pleasant walk along The Spit walk at Mooloolaba

Very pleasant walk along The Spit walk at Mooloolaba

We ended up at the Wharf precinct which was quite a surprise to us.  There were plenty of large and small yachts and motor cruisers moored there.  This is the place where whale watching tours are based, and there are also scuba diving schools and other water sport activities available.  It’s also the home of ‘Underwater World’.  There are several cafes in this precinct and a range of other retail outlets as well.

Scenes at the wharf at Mooloolaba

Scenes at the wharf at Mooloolaba

Scenes at the wharf at Mooloolaba

Scenes at the wharf at Mooloolaba

From the wharf area we had a bit of a walk around the back streets but eventually decided it was time for lunch so we headed back towards the main tourist area.  We stopped at Bellissimo Café which overlooked the water and importantly wasn’t overly crowded.  We enjoyed a delicious meal of fresh local fish with appropriate liquid refreshments.

Bellissimo Cafe - overlooking the water

Bellissimo Cafe – overlooking the water

All good things must come to an end at some stage so eventually we had to leave Bellissimo and make our way to a bus stop and back home to Bertha.

Another great day in paradise !

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Day 65 – Tastes of the Sunshine Coast Bus Tour

The Sunshine Coast hinterland is not, in our opinion, suitable for exploring in a motorhome.  Next best option is to simply book a suitable tour and sit back and enjoy the ride and commentary.  Bonus if there’s a wine tasting as you don’t have to drive home afterwards!

We were up bright and early and picked up outside Cotton Tree Caravan Park by Michael in the Con-X-ion mini-bus.  Next stop, after a quick tour through Maroochydore and past the Sunshine Castle at Bli Bli was to collect a further 3 passengers.

Sunshine Castle at Bli Bli

Sunshine Castle at Bli Bli

Once we were all on board introductions were made and Michael explained how the day would work, where we would be going and so on.  It turned out that there were only 3 Aussies on board – the two of us and Michael.  The rest were mainly Kiwis and a few Poms.  Not surprisingly there was some discussion about how things were going at the Olympics, but it was all in fun and was a great ice-breaker.  Michael finished his introduction with a bit of an aboriginal dream time story about Maroochy, Coolum and Mudjimba.

First stop on our tour was the Ginger Factory at Yandina.  There was plenty of time for our new friends to take the factory tour or the train-ride around the grounds, but in a case of “been there –done that” we settled for coffee and delicious ginger scones and a pleasant stroll through the glorious tropical gardens.  We also had time to visit the Macadamia factory although we didn’t stop at the Pioneer Gourmet Coffee factory this time.

The Ginger Factory at Yandina

The Ginger Factory at Yandina

My new friend at Yandina

My new friend at Yandina

Views around the Ginger Factory at Yandina

Views around the Ginger Factory at Yandina

Pioneer Coffee and the Nutworks Macadamia Nut Factory at Yandina

Pioneer Coffee and the Nutworks Macadamia Nut Factory at Yandina

Then it was back on the bus and we were off through the back-roads accompanied by a very interesting commentary by Michael.  We drove through Nambour to the Dulong Lookout.  The scenery was amazing and gave a perfect indication as to how hilly (mountainous is an exaggeration) the hinterland areas are.

Dulong Lookout

Dulong Lookout

Views from Dulong Lookout

Views from Dulong Lookout

From the lookout we drove through the small villages of Mapleton and Flaxton before stopping at the incredibly picturesque village of Montville, where we stopped for our lunch break.  Michael had explained that the traditional industries in this area, including timber cutting, had declined over the years and some places, like Montville, had been very successful in transforming into successful tourist destinations.  Walking around Montville we all agreed that this was certainly a very interesting and welcoming place.  As we only had a finite time before having to get back on the bus, we chose to have a light lunch and explore rather than indulge in some of the other fine dining options available.  Before long it was time to get back on the bus, but we will have to come back here another time and have a much longer and better look around.

Views around Montville

Views around Montville

Some of the artistic detail around Montville

Some of the artistic detail around Montville

Views around Montville

Views around Montville

Views around Montville

Views around Montville

As we were leaving Montville, Michael took us past ‘Remington’s Shute’, or at least a sign to remember the place where ‘Remington’s Shute’ had been.  The story was that the timber cutters would fell selected trees and drag them by bullock to Remington’s Shute where the logs would be launched to slide down the steep hill before being collected and transported from the bottom of the Shute.  This saved a lot of time trying to cart the logs a considerable distance down-hill, and was a lot safer too.

Remington's Shute (sign)

Remington’s Shute (sign)

Our next stop was at Maleny Cheese factory where there was a rush to taste the many delicious cheeses made on-site.  We caught a brief glimpse into the factory itself where they were making flavoured yoghurts, which are also delicious.  There is a café on the premises and a small shop with more local produce, but the focus of most of our travel companions was on the cheese.  A good selection of cheeses joined the ginger jam, nuts and a few things from Montville in our bag.

Maleny Cheese Factory

Maleny Cheese Factory

It was only a short drive to the village of Maleny, where we got off the bus for a quick ice-cream and a look around.  Before we left Maleny Cheese, Michael had commented on a carved wooden koala, and suggested that we should have a look around the buildings in Maleny.  He pointed out the carved wooden gorilla on top of the newsagency, and told us that the owner was African.  A quick look at the shoe shop highlighted a carved Kiwi and advice that the owner was indeed from New Zealand.  He left us to our own devices to see what other carved animals we could find.  Maleny is another village which appears to have successfully transitioned from traditional industries to tourism as a way to keep the village alive.

Carved wooden sculptures around Maleny

Carved wooden sculptures around Maleny

Views around Maleny

Views around Maleny

From Maleny, Michael took us to McCarthy’s Lookout, again highlighting the magnificent views throughout this area.

McCarthy's Lookout

McCarthy’s Lookout

McCarthy's Lookout

McCarthy’s Lookout

Next stop was for a wine-tasting at The Big Barrel – home of Maleny mountain wines.  We enjoyed a taste of several white and reds, and finished with an 8 year old Port and an 18 year old Port.  Our bag was a bit heavier when we left.

The Big Barrel - home of Maleny Mountain Wines and MacLeod Brewing Company

The Big Barrel – home of Maleny Mountain Wines and MacLeod Brewing Company

Last destination for the tour was a quick stop at the Aussie World pub, which looks suspiciously like the well-known Ettamogga Pub, although there isn’t a car on the roof.  We had time for a refreshing ale, but again decided to explore some of the other interesting shops.  Aussie World itself is actually a large “fun park” but there wasn’t time to explore there.  Aussie World is also a bus terminal for Con-X-ion buses and several of our fellow bus passengers transferred to other buses to take them back to their home destinations.

Aussie World Pub

Aussie World Pub

Views around Aussie World

Views around Aussie World

From Aussie World the bus headed back, dropping our new friends off at various hotels in Mooloolaba and finally dropping us back at Cotton Tree.

What a fantastic day we had!  We would never have seen so much, or learnt so much, if we had attempted to drive ourselves, either in Bertha or something a bit smaller.  As it was we were picked-up and delivered door-to-door, met a bunch of friendly and funny fellow tourists, and enjoyed a great sight-seeing and tasting tour around a beautiful part of Queensland with a very knowledgeable and entertaining bus driver. It doesn’t get much better than that!

To finish off the day, after unloading our bag of treasures in Bertha and a welcome cup of coffee, we had a brief rest before walking around to the Maroochy Surf Club for a very nice seafood dinner.  After-all, we had been tasting and grazing all day but hadn’t actually had a “meal” in all that time.

Maroochy Surf Club

Maroochy Surf Club

Still living the dream!

Categories: 2016 Big Maroochydore Adventure | Tags: , , ,

Days 54 & 55 – Gold Coast Adventure

Our daughter Katie decided to belatedly celebrate her 30th birthday by escaping Canberra’s cold winter weather and exploring the Gold Coast theme parks, so Katie and her fiancée Mick arranged a 3 bedroom apartment at Kirra Beach (near Coolangatta/Tweed Heads) for a week. We were invited to join them overnight for dinner and a catch up, as Maroochydore isn’t all that far from Kirra Beach.  Not really wishing to make the trip in Bertha we hired a car for a couple of days and set off on our short Gold Coast adventure.  We’d never driven an X-Trail before and it was a very nice car to drive!

Mid-morning we made our way from Cotton Tree to the Bruce Highway and south towards Brisbane.  First stop was at Caboolture for a quick lunch and to pick up some supplies for dinner.  Then it was back onto the highway and over the Gateway Bridge.  We’ve been over it before and I’ve posted photos in this blog before, but there is something about it that intrigues me so sorry but you’ll have to put up with yet another photo.

Gateway Bridge heading South

Gateway Bridge heading South

Not long after arriving on the South side of Brisbane we were engulfed in some pretty heavy smoke, and the speed limit was reduced for quite a distance.  It turned out that there was a controlled burn-off beside the highway in preparation for warmer bushfire weather.

Burning Off next to the highway

Burning Off next to the highway

Just past the theme parks at Coomera the traffic slowed again.  This time the delay was caused by a multi-car pile-up going North on the highway so of course South-bound traffic slowed as well.  There were police, tow trucks, ambulances etc in attendance and the highway was completely blocked.  The police were getting cars to reverse back to the previous off-ramp as it didn’t look as though any-one was going to get through for quite some time.  We didn’t want to imagine driving Bertha in a situation such as this – wouldn’t be much fun at all.

A lot later than expected (I didn’t mention the roadworks did I?) we finally arrived at Kirra Beach.  Mick and Katie were staying at the Wyndham Resort and had arranged an undercover car park for us, which was great, and helped us carry our gear and supplies up to their apartment on the 9th floor.  Their friends Bec and Leigh from Melbourne were also staying and it was great to see them again as well.  As it was too late to really go for walk, we all decided it was time for happy hour on the balcony watching planes take off at the nearby Coolangatta airport and watch the sunset.

Mick, Leigh and Bec helping celebrate Happy Hour at Wyndham Resort

Mick, Leigh and Bec helping celebrate Happy Hour at Wyndham Resort

Views from the balcony at Wyndham Resort

Views from the balcony at Wyndham Resort

Happy hour then morphed into a delicious dinner, with Mick and Leigh heading downstairs somewhere to a BBQ where they cooked up some meats while the girls put together a delicious salad.  Dinner was fantastic and after loading up the dishwasher we settled down to a hilarious board game called “Concept”.  It’s a bit hard to describe and none of us had played it before, but it’s a bit like “Pictionary” except that players have game cards with various icons to describe the clues instead of having to draw pictures.  I hope that makes some sort of sense – either way it was heaps of fun!.

Next morning after a very inviting and healthy breakfast we said our farewells to the kids (well they’re all around 30, but it’s a relevant term) who headed off to their first theme park for the week, while Ann and I decided to take the scenic route back to Cotton Tree.

First stop was to walk along the actual beach at Kirra Beach.  Looking back from the beach this place has certainly changed since we were last here some time ago.  Then we headed north along the “beach road” into the ever expanding sprawl that is the Gold Coast.

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We stopped for coffee at a very nice little coffee shop in Burleigh North and a quick walk before heading back to the X-Trail.

Very nice coffee!

Very nice coffee!

At some point we had to re-join the main road through the Gold Coast.  Ann remembers Surfers Paradise from the late 60s but could hardy recognise any of the buildings from that era.  Even though there are different suburbs listed on the map really it all just seems to be a constant contest to see how high buildings can go and how close they can be built together.  There are a few older standouts, and we did see a very nice war memorial, but it all seems to be high-rise buildings and even more development which sadly results in less sunshine.

High rise views along the Gold Coast

High rise views along the Gold Coast

Not everything is high rise though!

Not everything is high rise though!

The Spit at Southport was a nice relief after Surfers and surrounds.  We’ve been here several times before and feel quite at home.  After a drive around we found a scarce carpark at Mariners Cove and went for a good long walk to stretch our legs and work up an appetite for lunch.  There are all sorts of boats and yachts here.  We saw a very nice looking motor cruiser for sale at $1.8 million, reduced by $600K – a real bargain!?!  We also saw an interesting “church” cruiser before stopping for lunch at one of the several cafes and restaurants at Marina Mirage.

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All too soon it was time to head back to the car and continue our journey home.  Back past Australia Fair shopping centre; back over the Gateway Bridge; past Aussie World and the Ettamoga Pub; and finally we were back home in Bertha.

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It was great catching up with Katie and Mick, and to see Bec and Leigh again, and we certainly had a very enjoyable trip back from Kirra Beach exploring places we hadn’t been for quite some time.

But, the adventure wasn’t all over just yet!  Ann had a bit of a surprise for me as we still had some time before we had to return the X-Trail hire car.  Look what Ann found – Adults Only Car Shop specialising in classic cars, muscle cars, and more.   A great end to our Gold Coast adventure.

Nice surprise!

Nice surprise!

Still thoroughly enjoying the motorhome experience (even if we didn’t take Bertha this time)!!

Categories: 2016 Big Maroochydore Adventure | Tags: , ,

Day 49 – Cotton Tree, Maroochydore – Update No 3

Time for another quick update from Cotton Tree.

Last Sunday was another miserable day despite forecasts for an improvement.  The regular Sunday Cotton Tree market was still on, but there were fewer stalls than usual and not nearly as many potential customers either.  I spoke to one stall-holder and she told me that she was sceptical about attending as the weather was so bad, but at least the market organisers let stall-holders park their cars next to their stalls in case they needed to pack up in a hurry.

Sunday market almost totally deserted

Sunday market almost totally deserted

While at the market I noticed some road-works further up 6th Avenue near the bowling club.  I can’t work out exactly what they’re trying to achieve and other people I’ve spoken to aren’t sure either.  Another of life’s little mysteries I guess!

Roadworks at Cotton Tree

Roadworks at Cotton Tree

The weather did improve during the week so daily walks could continue.  It doesn’t matter whether the walk is to the shopping centre or simply an adventure, it is nice to be able to get out in the sunshine and do some exercise and enjoy the sights at the same time.

Views along Maroochy River

Views along Maroochy River

Making progress

Making progress

It’s also nice to be able sit outside and read the paper, or read a book, or just snooze.  A couple of times we’ve had a visitor outside Bertha – just hope he doesn’t want to actually come inside!

Visitor

Visitor

Better weather also means being able to enjoy happy hours with friends down by the Maroochy River, and stay out long enough to enjoy more spectacular sunsets.

More beautiful sunsets at Maroochy River

More beautiful sunsets at Maroochy River

The good weather also brings out the fisherfolk, and there have been some quite good catches recently – even the birds get a feed!

Fishing action

Fishing action

One of my projects this week was to put down the floor in our out-door room.  We had this matting with ‘Normous the Trailblazer and it makes a tremendous difference to the cosiness of the outdoor area.  It does really need the side and end shade walls in place before putting it down.

Floor now in the outdoor room

Floor now in the outdoor room

Yesterday was a bit warm but I still went for my walk.  I must admit that I had to stop for a cool drink along the way, and very refreshing it was too!

Nice place to stop for a cool drink

Nice place to stop for a cool drink

According to today’s paper yesterday’s temperature in Maroochydore was 31.4 degrees, the hottest July day on record.  Unsurprisingly we had Bertha’s windows open and the hatches open in an effort to catch any skerrick of breeze and keep temperatures as cool as possible.

Record hot day here in Maroochydore

Record hot day here in Maroochydore

Today’s weather is very pleasant and not nearly as hot as yesterday.  The market is back to its normal state of business and some progress has been made on the nearby roadworks.  It now looks as though they’re attempting to add a couple more carparks and smooth out the corner.  I’m sure that it will become more apparent as time passes.

Making progress

Making progress

Not sure exactly what’s on the agenda for the rest of the day but the great weather means that there are plenty of options.

Just for fun

Just for fun

Still living the dream!

Categories: 2016 Big Maroochydore Adventure | Tags: ,

Day 41 – Cotton Tree, Maroochydore – Update No 2

We’re still having a great time here at Cotton Tree, Maroochydore and it’s time for another quick update.

Firstly, to those non-believers, here’s a picture to prove that bushy turkeys certainly do inhabit cotton trees.  As commented in a previous post, we certainly wouldn’t want to be parked under this tree – things could get a bit messy!

Bush turkeys in a cotton tree

Bush turkeys in a cotton tree

On most days we go for a walk somewhere – Sunshine Plaza being a favourite.  Sometimes we need to do a bit of shopping, sometimes we enjoy a cup of coffee or a meal, and sometimes we just go for a walk because the weather is so good.  Sunshine Plaza is a bit different in that the shopping centre is largely over water, and it’s a bit strange seeing peddle boats around the shops, and not at the beach.

Sunshine Plaza, Maroochydore

Sunshine Plaza, Maroochydore

Fishing is a popular pass-time in this neck of the woods and there are plenty of shops selling fishing gear.  Even the office at our caravan park sells bait.  If you can’t find fresh bait you can always buy it from a vending machine!

Vending Machine for Bait!

Vending Machine for Bait!

Most of our walks take us along the Maroochy River and the views are just magnificent and very hard to ignore.

Can't go past these views at Cotton Tree, Maroochydore

Can’t go past these views at Cotton Tree, Maroochydore

From time to time something different catches our eye and on one day there was a monster crane servicing one of the buildings along the river.  It caused quite a bit of disruption in the immediate vicinity but it was only there for one day.

Monster crane at Maroochydore

Monster crane at Maroochydore

Last Sunday, after a stroll around Cotton Tree market, we went over to a nearby park where there was a large festival as part of NAIDOC week.  There was aboriginal and islander dancing, and plenty of merchandise stalls, food stalls, rides and activities for the kids, and generally a lot to see and do.  The overall theme was inclusiveness, and it was obvious that everyone there was having a great time.

NAIDOC festival at Cotton Tree

NAIDOC festival at Cotton Tree

Sometimes, though, we don’t have to go anywhere to feel happy and content.

Happy and content

Happy and content

One of the “highlights” of this week was the arrival of the front and back end shade-walls for our awning.  We brought the side shade-wall with us but hadn’t had a chance to set up properly and measure the end walls.  Julie from Camp Shades did a great job (she made the shade-walls for the Trailblazer as well).  This time we were inspired by Sue and Glenn here at the caravan park who had a zippered door included in their end walls and it is a great success.  We think that having the shade-walls and ends is better than having a full canvas annex as they provide good protection from the sun and weather in general, yet still let breezes and light in.

New shade-wall front with zippered doorway!

New shade-wall front with zippered doorway!

Another sight along the walk into Maroochydore the other day was the start of some reclamation works at the Black Swan Beach.  There has been some obvious damage along the river bank so this work was clearly necessary.  Apparently it will take 4 weeks, and they have been making good progress to date.

Black Swan Beach, Cotton Tree, Maroochydore

Reclamation Works at Black Swan Beach, Cotton Tree, Maroochydore

The weather for the last few days has unfortunately been a bit ordinary, although not as bad as the weather forecasts led us to believe.  Last night however, the storms arrived with quite heavy winds and rain.  It was pretty miserable first thing this morning and there was water everywhere but our little enclosed area stood up well and remained quite dry. It’s forecast to rain most of the day (it’s raining as I write this) so today will be an indoors day!  There’s a great second hand book-shop in Ocean Street, Maroochydore and I have an unread book just waiting to be started!

It's been raining at Cotton Tree

It’s been raining at Cotton Tree

The weather is forecast to improve from now on so hopefully we’ll soon be able to get back to “normal” Cotton Tree weather and activities.

Meanwhile, we’re still living the dream.

Categories: 2016 Big Maroochydore Adventure | Tags: ,

Day 34 – Cotton Tree, Maroochydore Update – Warbirds at Coolum

On Saturday I accompanied Downunda to an event at the ‘Sun Coast Model Flyers’ model aeroplane club at their flying field not far from Cotton Tree at Coolum.  Downunda has been flying model planes for a long time now and is a member of the club, although today he wasn’t flying any of his models.

Today was a special “Warbirds” day held in conjunction with the ‘Southern Cross Air Force’ club and involving other flyers from far and wide.  The idea behind the “Warbirds” events is that all planes must be models or replicas of military aircraft.

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When we first arrived a model jet plane was just coming in to land.  It looked and sounded fantastic!  After-all, it was a real jet, just smaller.  Downunda was a bit disappointed that there weren’t many jets flying on the day as in previous years there had been several.

Jet Powered

Jet Powered

We had a slow wander around the ‘pits’ area to have a good look at the huge variety of model planes there.  Many of the models were considerably larger than I had thought they would be and the attention to detail on some of them was quite incredible.  Apart from having fully kitted out pilots and cockpits, many planes displayed ‘correct’ rivets, decals, etc.

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Amazing attention to detail

Amazing attention to detail

The larger planes generally had petrol engines and looked and sounded extremely authentic.  There was one plane disassembled in a trailer which apparently had a 22 ft wingspan!

The planes represented a number of different air forces, including the Australian, British, American, Canadian, German, and others.  There was a 4 engined model with RAAF insignia which we would have loved to have seen actually flying, but unfortunately it didn’t take off while we were there.

4 engined RAAF plane

4 engined RAAF plane

The Red Baron in his triplane was there, but I didn’t see Snoopy!

Red Baron - where's Snoopy?

Red Baron – where’s Snoopy?

Unfortunately we couldn’t stay all day and were only able to see a relatively small proportion of all the planes actually take off, fly and land.

warbirds-july-2016_3000a_1000 (15) warbirds-july-2016_3000a_1000 (17)

There was only one serious incident requiring recovery while we were there, and that plane didn’t look as though it would be flying any more that day at least.  We did see some occasional flips on landing but generally there was little or no damage.

Oops!

Oops!

In closing, I might just mention that from a newcomer’s perspective the flying field itself is quite something.  There is a designated area where the ‘pilots’ stand while flying their planes and very obvious safety controls are in place.  Pit crew have covered areas under which they can work on their planes and there are larger covered areas for shelter.  There are toilet facilities and even a canteen.  Several visitors were obviously staying in caravans on-site as well.

warbirds-july-2016_3000a_1000 (6)

Thanks Downunda for a great introduction to the world of flying model aeroplanes!

Click on the thumbnails to see full size images!

 

Categories: 2016 Big Maroochydore Adventure

Day 29 – Cotton Tree, Maroochydore – Update No 1

It’s been nearly 2 weeks since we arrived here at Cotton Tree so it’s about time we provided our friends and followers with a bit of an update.

First item of business was to move from our temporary site at the Cotton Tree caravan park to the site we had booked previously.  The new site was only 100 metres or so away and packing up Bertha and setting up again was very quick and straight forward.  Downunda lent us some of his levelling blocks to make sure we were level.  Now we have “landed” we have put out the awning and the shade wall, and unpacked the tables, chairs and BBQ.  This is a nice large site with only one neighbour and which receives morning sun on one side and afternoon sun on the other.

Set up and comfortable at Cotton Tree

Set up and comfortable at Cotton Tree

We are only a very short walk from the Cotton Tree shopping centre, which has a nice assortment of retail shops, plus a good choice of cafes and take-away places, and several more up-market restaurants.  There is also a craft market every Sunday when the main street is blocked off.  We feel very much at home at Cotton Tree as we have been here several times – we even flew up to Cotton Tree last year and stayed in an apartment for a fortnight when we were between ownership of ‘Normous the 5th wheeler and Bertha the motorhome.

Cotton Tree is named after the many cotton trees in the area, and there are several large examples in the caravan park.  Bush turkeys also run around the park and even nest in the cotton trees.  We wouldn’t want to be parked under one of those particular trees!

Cotton tree and bush turkey

Cotton tree and bush turkey

Living in Bertha means that we have to be a bit more reliant on our feet for transport rather than just drive everywhere, and we are both doing a pretty good job of keeping up our goal of 10,000 steps each day.  Fortunately there is a very pleasant walk along the esplanade into Maroochydore and the Big Top shopping centre and Sunshine Plaza.  There are other shops well within walking (and bag carrying) distance from the caravan park.  Ann bought her wheeled shopping trolley with us and that certainly helps!  There is a fantastic second hand book exchange in Maroochydore and we have both found several books we had been searching for without luck elsewhere.  Plus we can trade them in on other books when we’re finished with them.

Views along the esplanade at Cotton Tree Maroochydore

Views along the esplanade at Cotton Tree Maroochydore

Much of the time, however, is spent relaxing, especially down by the river where we have joined in several happy hours and enjoyed the sights.  The sunsets here are superb!

Plenty of beautiful sunsets at Maroochydore River, Cotton Tree

Plenty of beautiful sunsets at Maroochydore River, Cotton Tree

There is a nice friendly bunch of people here at the caravan park and even a short walk can take quite a while as you stop and chat along the way.  There are fresh strawberries on sale here every Wednesday and the fresh prawn guy comes through several times each week.  We have indulged in both strawberries and prawns!

In the interests of travelling a bit further afield than our feet alone can manage, we have rounded up a bunch of bus timetables and we each purchased a “Go Card” which is very much like the Victorian Myki card.

Yesterday we bravely headed out to face the exciting world of the Queensland public transport system, with the intention of making our way to Caloundra as we had heard that there is a great market there on Sundays.  Neither of us had been on a bus for ages, but we both had a great time.  The buses were clean and tidy, arrived and left according to the timetable, and the drivers were very friendly and helpful to a couple of bus system novices.

It was a very interesting journey in the bus as we had driven to Caloundra before but you certainly see a lot more when you’re a bus passenger.  We arrived safe and sound at the Caloundra bus station which is only a matter of metres from the main street and arrived with the market well under way.  This is a much bigger market that Cotton Tree with several streets closed off for the duration.  It is a lot more diverse than Cotton Tree as other than arts and crafts it also has food stalls of all sorts and several buskers competing for your attention (and donations).  Most of the shops along the shopping strip are open as well.  Visitors are very well catered for in Caloundra.  Ann and I both engaged in a little retail therapy (new shoes for both of us) and enjoyed a very tasty lunch in one of the many cafes.

Sites around Caloundra market

Sites around Caloundra market

Beach scenes at Caloundra

Beach scenes at Caloundra

Classic Car was actually display stand for this stall

Classic Car was actually display stand for this stall

At around 1 o’clock the marketeers started packing up so we found our way back to the bus station and boarded the 600 bus back to Cotton Tree.  On the way back we stopped off at the Kawana Waters shopping centre for a look around before getting back on the bus and heading home to Bertha.

Our trip to Caloundra was a great experience and we will definitely be doing much more bus travel in the future.

Overall the weather here has been just about perfect and we have had a great time over the last week and a bit. We’re looking forward to more adventures over the coming weeks.

We’ll report back soon.

Thoroughly enjoying the motorhome experience ….

Categories: 2016 Big Maroochydore Adventure | Tags: , ,

Day 17 – Dalby to Cotton Tree, Maroochydore

It was raining early this morning so we planned on having a bit of a sleep-in, until the phone rang at 7.20am.  All was good but it prompted us to get moving.

Once on the road we thought that we’d do a bit of a tour of Dalby before we really got going.  First stop was one of the most famous houses in Dalby, at least to channel 7 viewers.

House Rules

House Rules

Dalby is a nice town, quite diverse and quite busy.  There are heritage buildings and churches, modern shopping centres, a couple of caravan parks, a good tourist information centre in a great garden setting, some big businesses and some small businesses, industry, rural enterprises, and more.

Scenes of Dalby

Scenes of Dalby

Back on the Warrego Highway, there were some interesting scenes, including eucalypt plantations, big trucks and a good looking country hotel at Jondaryan.

Scenes along the highway

Scenes along the highway

Our morning coffee stop was at the small town of Oakey, 4 or 5 kilometres off the highway.  We were expecting a small country town and were very surprised at the bustling town that we found once we arrived.  There is an Army flight base here and some big industry that we suspect is associated with fertiliser, given the odour as we passed.  Main street is very busy and the town is quite modern although there are, of course, some old/heritage buildings.  We had coffee at one of the bakeries and it was very good.

Scenes of Oakey

Scenes of Oakey

From Oakey it was back on the highway and through Toowoomba, where we were very pleased not to come across any of the flooding we saw on TV last night.  Our planned route today was quite simple: stay on the Warrego Highway (A2) until it changes to the M2 (motorway), then keep going until we get to the M1 which becomes the Bruce Highway and then eventually turn off onto the Sunshine Motorway to Mooloolaba and Maroochydore.

Being on highways and motorways meant that navigation was straight-forward, and the driving was quite pleasant as the road condition was generally very good to excellent.

Views along the highway

Views along the highway

Patriotic Queenslanders - forget traffic conditions

Patriotic Queenslanders – forget traffic conditions

We did face a bit of a challenge when we unexpectedly came to a steep descent, but we got through that OK.

Steep descent

Steep descent

There were some interesting sights on the side of the highway, including a cow and a dinosaur, a Big Orange, and a large red elephant.

We weren't expecting a dinosaur, Big Orange and a red elephant in Queensland

We weren’t expecting a dinosaur, Big Orange and a red elephant in Queensland

Eventually we came to the Brisbane Gateway Bridge, which is quite spectacular.  We have been over it several times in the opposite direction but this was the first time heading north.

Brisbane Gateway Bridge

Brisbane Gateway Bridge

As we got closer to the Sunshine Coast we saw our first signs of sugar cane and also vegetables growing under irrigation.

Sugar cane fields and irrigated vegetables

Sugar cane fields and irrigated vegetables

We stopped for a quick pit stop and lunch at a servo just after the bridge and then continued on to Cotton Tree Holiday Park at Maroochydore.  Our actual booking here doesn’t start until tomorrow but we had a one night temporary site organised.  We did a quick set-up before joining our friends Downunda and Faye and some new friends for happy hour and a beautiful sunset.

Happy Hour at Cotton Tree

Happy Hour at Cotton Tree

Sunset at Cotton Tree

Sunset at Cotton Tree

Tomorrow we will move onto our designated site and set-up properly, and hopefully put away our winter clothes for a while.

So far this adventure hasn’t been quite what we had hoped.  Concerns about the weather have disrupted our plans and we didn’t get to see many places we had hoped and ended up changing our booking here to get in early.  Hopefully we can get to see the places we missed when we eventually leave Cotton Tree and head in the general direction of home.

This will be our last post for a while as we will be in Cotton Tree for several weeks.  We will of course post updates of any significance.

Still living the dream …

Categories: 2016 Big Maroochydore Adventure | Tags: , , ,

Day 16 – Roma to Dalby

It was quite chilly this morning but Ann managed to slide her hand out from under the doona and turn on the heater to warm Bertha up before we actually got up and going.  Outside, it was a clear, crisp morning with a bit of mist around.  The mist soon disappeared and it turned into a beautiful sunny day, perfect for driving.

Early morning at Roma Gun Club

Early morning at Roma Gun Club

Almost as soon we hit the Warrego Highway we encountered roadworks, but fortunately we weren’t delayed too long.

Roadworks outside Roma

Roadworks outside Roma

At Wallumbilla we were struck by the huge grain silos right next door to cattle yards, and the long grass everywhere.

Grain silos and stock yards at Wallumbilla

Grain silos and stock yards at Wallumbilla

It was a great day for driving and the highway was in pretty good condition, but there was still water on the roadsides.  Having said that, after Wallumbilla we struck more roadworks.

A beautiful day for driving

A beautiful day for driving

More roadworks

More roadworks

Morning coffee was at a road-side stop at Yuleba.  We had to be very careful getting in and out of this area as there was water on the ground and mud everywhere.  We were joined by a worker in an Origin Energy ute and a couple towing a camper-trailer.  On a nice day this would be a very nice place to stop, and possibly stay overnight.

Morning coffee at Yuleba

Morning coffee at Yuleba

After Yuleba there were more roadworks and signs of very recent grading along the road.  We noted the depth of the grading, obviously intended to keep water off the road.

More roadworks

More roadworks

Graded roadsides

Graded roadsides

We soon drove through the small town of Dulacca and the slightly larger town of Miles.

Dulacca Hotel

Dulacca Hotel

Main street in Miles

Main street in Miles

Lunch stop was at Chinchilla, and we had run down our supplies during 4 days at Roma, we treated ourselves to a good healthy meal at Subway.

Chinchilla

Chinchilla

Immediately after leaving Chinchilla we struck more roadworks – a total of 15 kilometres of roadworks in fact – yes we counted!  So many workers on the roadworks in this area must be making a huge impression on the local economy!

Even more roadworks - 15 kilometres worth this time!

Even more roadworks – 15 kilometres worth this time!

Traffic on the road today has been quite interesting.  Coming from the opposite direction has been a quite constant stream of caravans, motorhomes and particularly camper-trailers.  We can’t quite work out why unless they’re all trying to escape bad weather that we don’t know about.  The other notable traffic was in the form of B-doubles and other very large and over-size trucks.  With so many roadworks along the highway the trucks are all in a hurry so I have made a point of pulling off the road when-ever possible to allow trucks to pass.  I would much sooner be behind a truck in a hurry than in front of it!

Huge trucks on the road today!

Huge trucks on the road today!

The other change we have noticed from Chinchilla is that the recent wet weather appears to have missed this particular area.  There are no signs of water on the ground and the paddocks simply look dry, although there are some green areas along the road.

Still seems very dry here

Still seems very dry here

Going through the small town of Warra we were particularly taken by the Memorial Hall, which is so unlike most of the somewhat run-down halls in many similar sized towns.

Warra Memorial Hall

Warra Memorial Hall

Great to see that the roads are all open again

Great to see that the roads are all open again

Arriving at Dalby, we checked into the Pioneer Village Caravan Park and reserved our spot with a pair of huge orange witch’s hats before heading out again to the local shops to restock our nearly empty cupboards.

Pioneer Village caravan park

Pioneer Village caravan park

Early motorhome ?

Early motorhome ?

Groceries packed away in Bertha we walked over to the nearby Pioneer Park Museum which is a very interesting collection of authentic old buildings, memorabilia, cars and machinery, and so-on.

Scenes of Pioneer Park Museum

Scenes of Pioneer Park Museum

Interestingly, despite the dry conditions between Chinchilla and Dalby, there are signs of the rain here in Dalby.  There is water and mud in the caravan park and the museum.  What is quite strange too is seeing huge cracks in the ground, usually caused by extended dry conditions, but now looking wet.  Just strange.

Today has been a great day, despite the roadworks.  We have had a pleasant drive in nearly perfect weather conditions, and have been through some very interesting places.

Still living the dream …..

Categories: 2016 Big Maroochydore Adventure | Tags:

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