This is one of my more lengthy Travel Tuesday posts. I usually like my pictures to do the talking in these but so much of my experience with the Gold Coast was the people and the stories that I have to share it in text. I’ll try to throw some pretty pictures in there to break it up.
A view overlooking Brisbane, on our way out
In my last Travel Tuesday post, I talked about the short two-day trip I took to Fraser Island immediately after a week at the Sunshine Coast. After my Fraser Island trip, I was dropped off in Brisbane and was planning on heading back to Toowoomba the next day after a day in Brisbane doing city things. One of the hardest parts about moving to Toowoomba from Boston is how much I missed the city sometimes. Giving up constantly having places to go, things to see and restaurants/cafes/shops to explore was an adjustment. Toowoomba isn’t small but it definitely isn’t the New England city I was used to. So I figured I would crash in Brisbane for the night, do some exploring during the day and head back to Toowoomba that evening.
Tony’s Mom on her land, helping to clean it up
While in Brisbane, I had booked a cheap hostel less than a mile from the train station but my boss assured me I could stay at her practice for the evening. Free room and board? Yes please! She is a midwife and has a practice “not too far from the train station” she said. Unfortunately, I had done a crap job at packing (not surprising) and had taken most of my weeks worth of stuff from Sunshine Coast with me to Fraser Island. Which means, I was lugging it around with me in Brisbane as I hunted down my bed for the evening. 3 miles later, with a giant back pack on my back (and no, not the back packing ones. I’m talking about an overstuffed laptop bag, with my circa 2008 Macbook, and my teddy bear sticking out) and a tiny rolling bag, I found myself standing in the middle of a road, at night, with the name I was looking for but with numbers that weren’t going low enough. Turns out, I had to go across the street and go behind this little wall thing and the street continued.
The View. Those tall buildings are the Gold Coast
That obstacle tackled, I got into the practice no problem and plopped down on the bedroom to unwind before bed . An hour or so later, after going to the bathroom and planning on calling it a night, the alarm for the practice started going off. At first, I didn’t realize it was coming from my place because, well, I had been there for an hour or two. Then, my brain did the most logical thing and jumped to every single episode of Law and Order: SVU that I had seen where there was a single white girl alone in a new place where she is attacked (so like, 50% of them?). As I was creeping about this place, I was relieved to find it empty but at this point the sirens were loud and I couldn’t figure out what to do! I opened the door to see if something had triggered it and found the neighbors crowded around. Yeap, the American is making a scene! But because they were Aussies they weren’t nearly as disgruntled as Bostonians would have been and kindly came inside to help disarm the alarm. During this time, I was frantically calling my boss, who had no idea what to do, so put me through to Sharon, one of the midwives who worked regularly at this practice. She walked me through disarming the alarm and when silence descended, finally, I found myself alone with two older middle-aged men, one who was in something that vaguely resembled a white bathrobe. Again, cue the SVU panic.
Shore where we docked the boat to the untouristy beach
Thankfully, they were incredibly nice and immediately exited the facility. And I was now in contact with Sharon, who was coming to the practice tomorrow and offered to let me stay with her when she returned for the weekend to the Gold Coast. I was hesitant at first but isn’t this what traveling is for? The next morning, she arrived with a Starbucks for me and I knew it was a sign from above. So off I went to the Gold Coast!
Look how quiet the beach is! Locals know the best spots
So, I’m not sure if I mentioned this previously, but I did zero research for my stay in Australia. I’m talking, nothing. As someone who obsessively makes lists (and leaves them in purses, pant pockets, jacket pockets, books, magazines, on the fridge….), the little planning I did for this vacation is astonishing and speaks volumes to my need to get out of Boston for a while. With that said, I knew nothing about the Gold Coast and let Sharon and her husband, Tony, show me whatever they wanted. I pretty much just tagged along with them for a few days. We hung out with Tony’s mom and saw her land with a beautiful view then went shopping and had coffee with her. I had dinner with Tony’s family, all who were incredibly welcoming and tolerant of a random American with weird food issues crashing their party. I went to an untouristy little beach via boat where Tony surfed, Sharon swam and I prayed not to get a sun burn (she did eventually get me in the water). I learned that the sand on this beach was a lot softer then in the states and walking on it was the most intense work-out my calves had ever experienced. I had Easter dinner with Sharon and Tony’s parents and siblings and helped make this tomato salad. I embarrassed myself immensely by taking it upon myself to organize their 500+ DVD collection. I spread out across the living room and attempted to find cases for all the loose DVDs, then divided them into kids and adults, then sorted them all alphabetically. I wish I was kidding. I’m not. It took me two nights and in the end, I never found the Man of Steel DVD that started the whole thing. Sharon found me very amusing and told me I was welcome back to organize whatever I wanted. :) Sharon and I also took an ocean side hike, which had both amazing views and crazy vegetation. Then she was a saint and took me to Starbucks (yes!) and Lush (YES!!) before bringing me back to Brisbane to catch a bus back to Toowoomba.
no tourists means I could finally get some whole shells which I had been looking for. There were none at Bondi Beach or Sunshine Coast- too many people
Sharon made me soy cappuccinos with little milk hearts twice while I was there. I’m trying to remember why I left…
Views from our ocean-side hike
I was overwhelmed by the kindness that Sharon and Tony showed me and had such an amazing time! They lived right on the water. I would wake up in the morning and sit on her porch and just relax. If I ever move to Aussie, I’m finding a house right next to Sharon and Tony’s and cooking for them every night as a huge ‘Thank You’.