Towards the end of March we packed up all our stuff and returned the trusty campervan. I don’t think it was bittersweet; we were all ready to say goodbye to cramped quarters and the colder weather of the NZ fall season.
Our first stop in Australia (after flying into Brisbane) was the beachside “town” of Noosa. Perched on top of a hill, we spent the week in a condo overlooking the picturesque bay. We didn’t do much here except relax, enjoy the weather, and take advantage of our new found space. The weather was hot and sunny, all except for the 24 hours that Cyclone Debbie blew on past. This was the excitement of the week, with power outages and trees down around us. The girls were just getting into the bath at dusk when the lights went out, and they stayed out (including the air conditioning) until the next afternoon. With local schools and many of the shops closed there wasn’t much to do except hang out at home. We decided to do some photos of the girls wearing tutu’s and beads for something to do. We also played lego that the condo hosts brought for us, and made forts from the kitchen chairs.
Our second Australia condo was located in Surfers’ Paradise- a big sprawling, loud city that reminded us closely of Waikiki beach on Oahu, minus its cool surfer vibe. Instead, it was more of a Los Vegas shopping location with lots of retail, and restaurants. Because of the cyclone the water was dirty coloured, the wind blew very strong nearly ever day and the waves were just a mess. We had not one day of surfing.
We did however enjoy a couple of tourist activities during our visit. We went to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary where we cuddled koalas, held a baby crocodile, and fed a mama kangaroo with a baby in her pouch. It was a pretty neat experience for all of us.
For my birthday we headed to a giant mall called Pacific Fair where we wandered for hours. Rylie and I took a break for a birthday pedicure; only she was too frightened to have her nails painted. Instead she curled up in my arms and fell asleep to the relaxing motion of the massage chair we were sitting in. I knew she would be disappointed to leave without pretty nails so I asked them to be stealthy and paint them while she slept. It was a success and when she woke up she was both surprised and excited.
Our other tourist adventure was to Sea World. They had lots of activities, rides and animals that the girls (and parents too) could enjoy. We started with rides (a carousel, flying bananas, a wild submarine, and spinning jellyfish), watched a Dora the Explorer show, followed by more rides, a dolphin show (Rylie was beside herself with excitement, she was just glued and poor Zo slept through the whole thing but would have loved it) and lastly popcorn and an extreme jet ski show.
Week three in Australia took us a bit more south on the Gold Coast to Coolangata. We splurged a bit with a last minute booking at a beautiful condo overlooking a near perfect right point break. There was a great paved path that went along the ocean for kilometres with a couple of playgrounds, various surf shops, restaurants and other retail on one side and green grass and endless beach on the other. It was much quieter than surfers paradise and it had that laid back surfer vibe that we were after. The surfing was also really good and Josh got out nearly everyday, and I went a couple times. We did our Easter egg hunt early on Good Friday before flying to Sydney. The girls enjoyed the little treasure hunt that Mr E Bunny set up for them to find their baskets.
Easter weekend we ended up flying to Sydney instead of doing the several hour drive with the kids. We rented a cute little condo during week four in Bondi beach, up on a hill the same block as the beach and just a 5 minute walk into shops as well.
It is actually a family’s main residence as well, but being that our stay was over the Easter long weekend they had rented out their home while on holidays themselves. The girls thoroughly enjoyed playing with the little boys lego, stuffies and play kitchen and really didn’t want to leave the comforts of home unless we forced them to. The weather was nice but not for hours of beaching, so we did some birthday gift shopping, got groceries, did a few walks (some into town, others along the scenic path along the ocean) and took the kids to the Taronga Zoo (which had gorgeous views of Sydney Harbour and the Opera House. We celebrated Zo’s birthday here as well, complete with decorations and cupcakes.