I’ve been trying to wrap my tongue around some of the place names around here, and failing miserably. But it’s all part of the fun of discovering a new place. The other, much more distressing issue, is cycling on the left (wrong?) side of the road. After 50 years of looking left first, I have to force myself to look right first. It’s been a bit of a learning curve but I’m getting the hang of it, although we still sometimes start on the right (wrong!) side but quickly move over.

We landed in Brisbane a few days ago after a long but very comfortable flight from Vancouver. We both managed to sleep about seven hours in our business class pod beds. I may never fly economy again on a long flight. Gotta love those frequent flyer points.

The first few days in Brisbane we spent with Trina and Dean. We met them a year or so ago in Vancouver when they visited Trina’s son Scott and his partner Sarah who had stayed with us a few nights on their multi-year cycling tour around the globe. We are all members of Warm Showers, a free accommodation and hosting organization for cyclists around the world. Through Warm Showers we’ve met some great people, both as hosts and as guests.

Dean working the grill.

Trina and Dean were the best hosts, taking us around Brisbane and to the Gold Coast. They fed us and even dragged us along to a birthday party for one of Trina’s colleagues. It was a great introduction to Aussie hospitality.

Dean and Trina.
The Gold Coast south of Brisbane.

We put our bicycles together and rode into the city for a test run to ensure everything was functioning properly and were amazed and pleased at the extensive cycling infrastructure around Brisbane and its suburbs. Hundreds of kilometres of cycleways and bike paths criss-cross the city and it’s well signed and easy to get around, as long as you remember to ride on the right (left!) side of the path.

Flying foxes roost in Brisbane park.
Downtown Brisbane.
One of the City Cat ferries in Brisbane.

We’ve brought our Surly ECRs for this trip, equipped with three-inch tires, with the plan to find small roads and dirt tracks to explore this part of Australia. We’ve planned for three months here with not much of a plan, other than to stay off the beaten track as much as possible.

Our ECRs loaded for the road.

North of Brisbane, on the Sunshine Coast, we had other people to visit, so we cycled out of Brissy, making use of its extensive cycling network. Getting out of a metropolitan area is always a little time consuming but we managed well and headed for Woody Point.

Cycling into Brisbane centre.

Because it’s winter here, the days are short and it’s dark by 6 p.m., so we need to start looking for a place to camp by about 4 p.m. Unfortunately, there was no room at either caravan park to camp so we opted for a bed and breakfast. Unbeknownst to us, this place was the home of the BeeGees and we wandered up the main drag to find BeeGees way where a statue and display tells of their rise to fame.

Another life-long dream ticked off.

We carried on toward the Glass House Mountains where we met with an unfortunate incident at a gas station. Jan was paying for a couple of items and talking to the cashier when an unsavoury guy swiped her phone and wallet. She discovered it almost immediately and we confronted him but he would not give it up and we were not certain he was the culprit although both Jan and the cashier thought it only could have been him.

To make a long story short, the CCTV footage showed it was him. We had also taken his licence plate and vehicle description and passed it all on to the local police. We had to phone Canada to cancel the bank cards and credit card and we locked the phone down remotely. This all took a lot of time and effort and emotional toll but now, a few days later, we’ve resigned ourselves to the fact the phone and cards are lost and we’re moving on. They are all useless to the thief as the phone needs a password and as soon as it is connected to a network, we will be notified of its whereabouts. The police are on the case and perhaps there will be a positive outcome. No point to dwell on the past but it’s a shitty way to begin our trip.

Glasshouse Mountains.

We camped at the Glass House Mountains campground and met a couple of lovely women in a small camper next to us who were very helpful as we tried to deal with the stolen phone thing with the police. It was nice to camp although the night was long because of the early sunset. We sat by the fire for a while with our neighbours but the temperature dropped quite a bit and we all retreated to bed fairly early.

Lunch by the beach.
Easy cycling on the Sunshine Coast.

In the morning, it was only 4 degrees. Yes, it’s winter in Australia, but even that is a bit cold for this time of year this far north. But it doesn’t take long for the temperature to rise once the sun is up. Before long, it was in the 20s and we were on the road north to Buderim to visit Peter and Sue.

Peter, Sue, Jan and Paul above Noosa.
Waterfront boardwalk in Noosa.
Fresh prawns.

We’ve been hanging out with them and going around the Sunshine Coast, doing some hikes in local parks and learning a lot about this area. Peter and Sue have been generous hosts and we will reciprocate when they come to Whistler next year to do some skiing.

One of the beaches at Noosa.
Beach below the Hell’s Gate view point.

We will continue north from here and figure out what we want to do and where we want to go. We have a loose plan and we’ll see how it goes.


12 thoughts on “Going Down Under

  1. Great blog and wonderful pictures. Looking forward with excitement to following you on your travels. Take care both 😊

    1. Wonderful stories and photos with so many positive encounters with such warm hospitality. What a hassle and disappointment about the wallet and phone and meeting up with a lowlife like that.
      Do you have BeeGees music stuck in your head now?

  2. …..good to hear from you on your southern trip……keep left young man, keep gauche, and all will turn out right/OK……..interesting to hear about “Warm Showers”; what a great idea……Chaleureusement !

  3. Paul an Jan,

    Loved reading your blog and pictures. Sorry to hear about your wallet. Boo.
    We are enjoying Sunny and Hot Vancouver this Summer. Got confirmation last week that I drive again. This is life changing for me. We are off on a tour to Costa Rica with National Geographic over Christmas. Heading to Mexico Oct 8th. Life is good.
    Keep up your blog. We love it. Wayne and Lise XO

    1. Jan and Paul. So nice to see you are on the road again and on the left side! Sorry about the thefts. Really looking forward to what will come. Love Auntie Carol.

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