Stop 2 of our small Australian tour was just an hour south of Brisbane or in our case much longer on a train and 2 buses. The transportation was delightful, the luggage was horrible. We tried very hard to pack light before we left home. Bringing musical instruments was a priority for us so we can play together. Christian brought a guitar, Jaida a ukulele, Blake a little djembe and I decided on the flute instead of the bass ukulele that I’ve been trying to learn – just to save space. I intentionally took a duffel bag that is smaller than a suitcase so that I couldn’t pack too much. I was feeling pretty good about my selections when we left Vancouver. As soon as we got to Australia and I shed the sweater, running shoes, socks and jeans for shorts, tank top and flip flops my recurring nightmare about having too much stuff to fit into my bag came true. I couldn’t believe on our first minutes of a 2 month trip that I was already wrapped around my bag like a pretzel to squish everything in and get the zipper done up. I even secretly shoved the entire toiletry bag into Christian’s suitcase (and out of mine) while he was changing in the bathroom.

After our time in Brisbane, we left our apartment to walk to the train station with 3 rolling suitcases, a duffel bag, 4 back packs a ukulele and a guitar. The duffel bag was a bad idea and kept falling off the suitcase we had it sitting on as we walked. It was tricky to find a spot for all the luggage on the fairly crowded train so we had to sit with our legs squished and bags piled on top. The bus was the worst – getting the kids on with their suitcases, finding spots for everything and then having to get off, just to do it all again on another bus. Needless to say the VERY first thing we did when we arrived on the Gold Coast was to make a pile of the items we do not want to carry around with us anymore and we mailed them home. A nice large package – it was the best $66 I’ve spent. We won’t see that stuff for 3 months – what a relief.

On the Gold Coast, we stayed at an Airbnb in this resort that had 4 different pools, hot tubs, water slides, arcade, cinema, restaurants and mini putt. Blake was over the moon when we arrived saying it was his favourite place that we’ve ever stayed. We spent a bit of time at the pools and water slides but mostly we went to the beaches. In our short stay, we went to 4 different beaches and body surfed and boogie boarded.

On the second day that we went to a beach, Jaida noticed a sign the said “Danger – Marine Stingers”. She had been nervous about jelly fish since before we came on the trip and she immediately decided she would not go in the water. Christian asked the life guards about it and they told him that 2 kids had been stung that morning but the winds have changed and it should not be a problem any more. That was good enough for Christian, Blake and I and it only took about 5 minutes of us body surfing and laughing in the water for Jaida to join in. The next day, Jaida swore she would not go in the water because of the blue bottles (the marine stinger), but after just a few minutes she gave in and joined us. We learned from one of our Uber drivers that the blue bottles have only one tentacle that has many stingers on it. Each stinger is less painful than a bee sting but the tentacle gets wrapped around you and is difficult to remove. After a few hours the pain is gone. Then, on our fifth day, Christian and I actually saw a tween get stung, he hysterically cried out and his mom carefully unwound the stinger from the boy’s hand. Christian and I wondered if we should mention this to Jaida who was already playing in the waves. The next thing I knew, Christian told Jaida what had happened and she bolted out of the water. Once again, we apprehensively continued to play in the waves and eventually Jaida joined us again. You can see in some of these pictures that Jaida tried to boogie board with her body out of the water as much as possible.

My favourite memories from these beach days is catching a wave on a boogie board next to Jaida and Blake, happily watching them and laughing. I have similar very vivid memories of doing that with my sister in Virginia beach as a kid. And just like then, the memory ends with me laying on my board on the sandy beach after the water returned to the ocean and awkwardly getting up from the sand which was much more difficult as an adult! We all had so much fun. I don’t think of myself as a water person but I have to say an ocean with waves and a boogie board is paradise! I think the kids agree.

We had the pleasure to visit with Marissa Falconi – a friend of mine from long ago in Ontario. Marissa picked us up from our Airbnb and took us to what is now my favourite beach in the area close to where she lives called Rainbow beach. It was so great to spend time with her – I haven’t seen her since she was a kid. We went to her apartment right on the beach and met her Aussie roommate and her cute little dog that she moved from Canada with 2 years ago.

We also had the pleasure to visit with Luke and his kids when they came to visit us from Brisbane for the day. His kids are 6 and 4 so they were keen on staying at the fun water slides and pools rather than going to the beach. All of the kids had a blast together. I felt a little sad leaving the Gold Coast as this was the only area on our trip where we know people who live there and having a local’s perspective really makes it fun!

On our last night on the Gold Coast, Christian decided it was time to buzz his hair as he does about twice a month. The hair cutter he brought blew up on him half way through his hair cut because the power adapters we have do not convert the voltage. So, we had to find a hair dresser that was still open at 5:30 on a Sunday evening or Christian would have had to fly to Sydney the next morning with just the front half of his hair shaved. The crisis was averted!

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