Since meeting our new friend Bev (Sv Kokoh) in Riatea French Polynesia last spring we have been talking about visiting her homeland of Australia. To re-iterate just how small the big old wold is we were sitting in a café in Tonga with Bev when I received an email from an old friend and tennis partner from Vancouver. Wendy and I played tennis together daily for many years and in 2003 she and her husband retired and moved to her homeland of Australia. She and I have kept in touch with the goal of someday meeting up again. As we sailed westward across the Pacific we communicated via email and the invitation was renewed for us to come visit. So when talking with Bev about visiting her in Australia it was only natural that I mentioned my friend Wendy. Bev asked where Wendy lived and I responded “oh somewhere in the North East part of Oz…and Bev said well I’m from the North East as well. Since I was ‘online’ reading Wendy’s email…Bev said…ask her where exactly she lives…I typed quickly and within moments received her answer…it was in Peregrine Beach on the Sunshine coast. As I read the reply out loud…Bev said “Far Out…that’s where I live”. It turns out they lived within walking distance of each other and so a planned ‘meet and greet’ was set in motion for our upcoming visit.
Our flight to Brisbane via Virgin air was short and delightful. With large comfortable seating and excellent service it reminded us of earlier times of air travel when passenger comfort was a priority. Upon arrival we were delighted to re-unite with Bev and totally surprised and delighted to see my old friend Wendy. It turns out and Wendy and Bev had now become friends and it was a wonderful way to begin our Australian adventure.
We drove north to Peregrine Beach and soon were comfortably ensconced in the very comfortable home of Bev’s friend Lynn where we would stay for a few days before departing in Bev’s Caravan (motorhome) to see the sites. After a couple of enjoyable days meeting and greeting we departed with Bev for the interior and the mountains. Well, to call them mountains might be a slight misnomer, but they were definitely high hills and after a pleasant drive of a few hours we arrived at a place called O’Riley’s. This is a campsite made up of wonderful hiking trails resplendent with all manner of flora, fauna and living creatures winged and tailed that are quite unique to the wonderful land of Oz. Parrots that were so plentiful and tame, dare I say, bold, that with peanuts or chips in hand they would happily land on your head, shoulder, hand or foot to feed greedily until supplies were exhausted. All the while around you would be Padymelons (small Kangaroo), climbing tree Kangaroos, the ever cuddly Koala Bears, huge winged prehistoric looking feathered helmet headed birds and all manner of creatures great and small to amuse and delight.
The hiking/walking trails were a bird watchers paradise. Trails that were hung from the tree tops and three tiered viewing platforms afforded views of the surrounding hillsides quite unlike anything we had ever seen before. The weather was perfect and enjoyed three beautiful days at this site.
Unfortunately our visit to O’Rileys was cut short with the onset of Cyclone Marcia that was nearing the North East Coastline. We decided that prudence was the better part of valor and departed for a visit to the Gold Coast, south of Brisbane and away from the predicted landfall of the storm.
We found a lovely furnished two bedroom apartment for rent and from our third floor perch overlooking the ocean we waited for the Cyclone to pass. During the next 72 hours we watched with interest the weather channel and the wind and waves that were within throwing distance of our comfortable hidey hole. On the one hand we found this mildly amusing, having left KaijaSong in a Cyclone Pit in Fiji, flying to Australia to be out of harm’s way and now finding ourselves holed up in what appeared to be the direct path of the coming Cyclone.
Luckily for us Marcia made landfall on the North East Coast in quite a remote part of Australia. However, Marcia with all its Cat 5 Force hit in an area that was not totally uninhabited and those that lived there experienced near total devastation of homes and properties. Yet there was no loss of life and the government was quick to respond with aid and supplies and assistance to those hardest hit.
We departed the Gold Coast and made our way north back to the Sunshine coast and Peregrine Beach to take up our duties as puppy sitters for Lynn's two sweet little doggies...Indi and ZeZe while she prepared to depart for a visit to Vietnam.
Our return gave me the opportunity to meet up again with my friend Wendy and my tennis racket and with a bum knee (I needed any excuse I could muster) enjoyed time on the courts and marvelled at just how well my old friend was still striking that little yellow ball. I was happy to be on the court and was reminded of just how ‘out of shape and practice I was’. However, on balance, I can say that I hugely enjoyed the reunion and the time spent hitting the ball and catching up with Wendy.
We spent the next few days running here and there. Bev was determined to show us the beauty of her country in the limited time we had and we enjoyed each and every bit of it. Our time was soon up and as we boarded the plane for our return to Fiji, Kaija and I both agreed that a re-visit is on the bucket list and a much longer period is required to see and experience all that is Australia. Thank you Bev for making our visit so comfortable and pleasant.