16 July 2013
Watching the tide go by.
Or something like that.
We drove much of the day on 15 July, and made it to Hervey Bay by evening. Found a nice beachside caravan park, and chose to stay for two days and enjoy the warmish weather and lovely view of the water. We're nestled in under a huge old tree (a notable tree but without the sign telling us that), cozy in our camper.
We found a lovely
spot for breakfast, just next door, with a wonderful view of the beach,
bay, and pier. Seriously gorgeous spot. Hervey Bay is known for being
one of the prime places to view humpback whales - the calves are born
up in the Great Barrier Reef area, and when they're old enough to travel
(a few days? weeks?) the mamas and babies come down to Hervey Bay,
where the new calves are introduced to the rest of the pod. So people
come from all over to see the whales. July is still the beginning of
whale viewing season, so we didn't see any from the beach. And we're
more likely to see the whales when we're up in the Reef area, so we'll
hold off with the whale watch trip.
We drove and
walked around the area - this really is a beautiful spot, with various
small towns running together along the beach, and providing mellow
tourist services. It's definitely a laid-back beach community, with a
mix of Asian, European, and Australian food, a bunch of campgrounds, and
small hotels and places for "holiday let" (vacation rentals).
The morning started sunny, but by late morning it was grey and a little drizzly again - we managed to get some walking on the beach, but, well, we've been spoiled by our time in the VI, and so this 60-something degree weather and water is just too cold for us. So we had a slow kind of a day, but did manage to accomplish a bunch. (More on that later.)
I know Richard's family and friends are missing him, and he's rarely seen in the blog photos. And his voice is rarely heard, since he doesn't write the blog (despite requests from some of you, as well as me). At any rate, I managed to get a picture of him and I told him it was going into the blog. His family will recognize the look.
So, despite the fact that half the paper is focused on the big footie (or rugby?) game coming up on Wednesday evening, I managed to find one article of major interest: there is a right and a wrong way to return koalas to the wild. Yup. The law states that koalas must be returned to within 5 km of the area from which they are taken (when they are rescued for medical treatment). And this man from the local rescue center said he usually tries to return the koala to the exact same tree where it was found. The photo shows Kingsley being returned to his favourite gum tree. So, all you koala lovers out there, aren't you happy to know these koalas are being released in the correct manner? I certainly am! And the news here beats the Darwin papers, with the daily crocodile or snake attacks, right? (This country has amazing animals - they are either absolutely adorable or ready to kill you. Not much in between.)
For all my science family and friends, the beach here is on Hervey Bay - Frazer Island separates this body of water from the ocean.
Frazer Island is one of the largest (if not the largest) sand islands in the world. Supposed to be beautiful, but we're skipping that since we hope to visit some gorgeous islands further north. Anyway, the difference between low and high tide can be seen with these photos of the pier - it's maybe a two meter (six foot) difference here. Beach has soft golden sand, moderate slope, backed by low dunes that are fenced off, presumably for regeneration.
I had a nice beach walk just before sunset, and walked out on the pier to get some nice shots of the sun setting over the water. There were people fishing, but the fish were stealing the bait and not getting caught - so I have no idea what's out there. Never did see any whales or dolphins.
So, our big decision of where to go after Australia has been made. After numerous visits to travel agents to get recommendations and suggestions, and much time online looking at various options, and researching as many Pacific Islands as we could name, we finally settled on Samoa. Western Samoa. Or actually, The Independent State of Samoa. The first of the Pacific Islands to gain independence from the colonial powers. Near American Samoa (of which Pago Pago is part). No crocodiles, no current fighting, warm water and warm weather, beautiful diving, and a bit off the beaten path. And, well, that's about it. We'll learn more as we figure out where we'll stay. But one of the pluses is that we can easily obtain a 60 day visa when we arrive, and we aren't required to have an itinerary to leave the country. Since we don't have a plan, we don't know where we'll go next. Probably another island nation or two, but, we're open.
The other news is that Richard's brother and his wife will be heading to Thailand in the winter, so we'll meet up with them in Bangkok and maybe elsewhere in the country. Details to be worked out, of course, but we're excited to "have company" for lack of a better description.
And that's the news. We're having a mellow time spending two days along mellow Hervey Bay, and we'll head north tomorrow. Don't know how far we'll get, don't have a definite destination in mind.
We have three more weeks in Britzy the camper, so we'll continue to travel slowly and enjoy the ride.