Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Aussie Wedding & Moreton Island

We'd been in Australia over 4.5 years before our first invitation to an Aussie wedding materialized.  We've known plenty of couples here who got married...but they were expats and got married back home.  Finally, a local wedding!

And finally a non-Melbourne Cup reason for me to wear a fascinator!

Except I was the only one wearing one!  Womp womp.  I was expecting it to be like England where all the ladies bring out their finest headgear but, this being my first wedding, I learned this is not the case.  No worries, though, I looked fabulous and everybody said so.

The best part about this wedding was the return of Pia and Ryan, our friends who left Brisbane for the Cheeto-dusted shores of the USA.  It had been a year since they left us, though I did get to spend some quality time with Pia and her sister Allie in NYC this past August.  They are Ameri-stralians like myself except born that way, so half of their family lives here.  It was their cousin getting married.

The wedding was held at their family property in the Sunshine Coast hinterland.  It was, to put it mildly, stunning.

The day was so clear you could see straight to the ocean, even though it's a good 30 (or more, I don't know) kilometers inland.  How fab is this place?!  Very fab.  So fab, in fact, I chose this spot as the permanent home of my citizenship shrub.

Because they didn't want the area getting clogged with cars they asked Martin if he would shuttle guests from the main road in to the ceremony and reception site.  It was only a few hundred meters, on private property, and there were only two cars doing the job so the guys naturally took advantage of the situation and started pre-gaming behind the wheel!

The reception was nearly as lovely as the ceremony.

Shout out to the party favors for keeping my honey supply well stocked, and shout out to the open bar for one hell of a night.

Judging by how I felt the next day, things got pretty feral.  That's enough incriminating evidence for right now, but I will include this picture of Allie because it's my favorite thing ever:

After a rough road to recovery from the wedding, upon Pia & Ryan's request we made another beach camping quest to Moreton Island.  We did this shortly before they moved out of Brisbane as their final farewell, and chances are we'll never do it again because the next time we see them they'll have a baby.  But for now, we enjoy our freedom on the beach!

As we do we hiked up to the lighthouse.

And were rewarded with incredible panoramic views.

This picture isn't the greatest, but we made s'mores from the finest imported graham crackers and Hershey's chocolate.

We had to rescue this little adorable little feller from diving into the inferno:

He looks like he's smiling!  Adorable!  It's very bizarre, but crabs seem to be attracted to fires that would no doubt kill them.  Interesting and strange.

We took a dip in the champagne pools.

But the real winner of the weekend is the new beach we discovered, and had completely to ourselves for several hours.

Honeymoon Bay quickly won all our hearts and has been declared our favorite beach in Australia.  It's foolish that we haven't stumbled upon it previously, since it's right next to the champagne pools where we've been before.  It's not at all difficult to find.

We had the place literally to ourselves for several hours, then just as we were departing two people arrived.  It's a true testament to how secluded Moreton Island is that this beach isn't completely packed.  Calm waves, rock-free, sandy bottom, no crowds.  Best beach in Oz, bar none!

We spent the weekend hanging out, having a few brews and catching up after more than a year of being apart.

Then suddenly!

We were interrupted by an epic battle between this goanna and the crab he was trying to eat.  The crab stood no chance against the lizard but it did put up an admirable fight.  Maybe it was the crab from the fire who had an insatiable death wish?  Wildlife encounters are my favorite thing about being out and about in Australia.

Sadly Pia and Ryan had to go back to the USA and we had to return to the mainland to our regularly scheduled lives.  For better or worse, instead of choosing to go out and make new friends I've decided to hunker down and just wait for the ones who left to return for a visit.

Why bother making new friends when you've got the cream of the crop already?

The crew at the "world famous" Gutter Bar

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Bunya Mountains

Shortly after my arduous journey back from the USA Martin was crawling out of his skin because he hadn't traveled anywhere in a long time.  Enter a last minute trip to the Bunya Mountains, 3 hours north of Brisbane.

Martin's wanted to go here since we got to Australia.  We sure picked an interesting time of year to go.  This being the dead of winter, quite a ways inland it was, quite literally, freezing.

The only heat source in the house we rented was this fireplace.  Before it really got going you could literally see your breath!  It was hovering around the freezing point whenever the sun was down.

But damn was it worth it just to watch the sun set.

Note I watched this sunset from the comfort of the car with the heat cranked up, because I was dying and stupidly forgot to pack my gloves that I wore in Sydney 3 months prior.

Those round top trees in the first picture are bunya pines, where this area gets its name.  These are "evergreen coniferous" trees that produce gigantic pine cones that contain edible nuts.  Unfortunately, we didn't see any of these big ass pine cones in real life (which was Martin's #1 priority), but this is a museum representation of one:

He claims they can kill you if one falls on your head, but I have yet to see that quoted anywhere else.  They are massive, though.  I'd say 10 times the size of a regular pine cone.

We did get to eat bunya nuts, though.  Priorities, people!

All three of these have bunya nuts somewhere in them.  Though I must admit I couldn't tell the difference between bunya nut pesto and regular 'ol pesto I would eat it all again.  Especially the cake!

During the day the temperature was liveable, so we spent our days hiking through the national park, looking at the super big trees.

We didn't see any animals out in the forest, but there were plenty in the little town.

There were tons and tons and tons of wallabies.  I've never seen so many at once!  Look how hilariously this one is sitting:

As always, (ahem) "we" found the birds.

Some more domesticated than others.  That's a wedge tail eagle, the largest bird of prey in Australia.  It goes without saying Martin is a huge fan.  If you want 60 more pictures of it, I can make that happen.  I know a guy.

On the drive home we stopped in Blackbutt, Queensland because no way was I missing out on that.  The power in the whole town was down (because of course it was) but we were not disappointed.  Not one little bit.

It's been a long time since we went on a weekend getaway just the two of us.  I forgot how nice it was to have a romantic getaway, just me and Merv.

Hopefully our weekend trip to the tundra has satiated his travel bug for a while...because there's nothing on the horizon for a long, long while!