We arrived late in the afternoon at Noosa North Shore Retreat and Tourist Park. I cant remember why exactly but I think it was mainly to do with the traffic coming through Brisbane. Oh, and we stopped in at Australia Wide Annexes in Forest Glen on the way through to have the skirt press studs replaced, a five minute job as they did it there and then, cheers guys.
The caravan park was literally dead quiet with only four other campers on site but the change of pace was just what we needed. Moving from the busyness of Coolangatta to the remote National Park setting with an abundance of wildlife. We didn’t realise that we needed to catch the ferry over to North Noosa so there was a few nervous moments loading the car and van onto the barge.
We went into Noosa Heads the following day to check out the point and National Park. There was no surf at Tea Tree (which wasn’t unexpected as I think it needs a fairly solid swell to work) so over the next couple of days we cruised around town and had a picnic at the creek. Noosa is set in a stunning back drop of rain forest covered hills and has a very European feel in the town centre. Not to mention the architecturally designed homes that line the creeks and canals.
One afternoon at the caravan park we were lucky enough to feed the birds just out the front of our van. There were Rainbow Lorikeet’s, Kookaburra’s and even a resident Falcon nesting high atop the gum trees. We were told by long term visitors that the falcon was in fact third generation occupying the nest. The birds where so tame that even the boys enjoyed feeding them by hand and they were even perching themselves on our heads. Make sure you check out the video below.
On our last day in North Noosa we decided to attempt a run up the beach to Double Island Point. They loose about sixty 4WD’s a year here when the tide gets high so I was trepidatious to say the least. We left a couple of hours before low tide and quickly realised we shouldn’t have been concerned at all. With nearly a hundred metres of hard sand it was like driving on a highway and in some parts better than some of the bitumen highways we have driven on during our lap. Double Island is a great spot – the quintessential Aussie beach, perfect for families to hang out, swimming, fishing and surfing. A bit of a swell magnet too, so I was stoked to get some wedging little barrel’s as everywhere else was flat.
From Noosa we headed to Agnes Waters / Seventeen Seventy. Seventeen Seventy (formerly known as The Town of 1770) is a picturesque seaside village surrounded on three sides by the Coral Sea and Bustard Bay. Historic as the landing site of James Cook and the crew of the Endeavour in May 1770. We were pretty excited to get here as almost the entire trip people we met told us we must go there. Unfortunately it didn’t pan out too well for the week – Mother nature didn’t cooperate so we hit a bit of flat spell (read no waves at all), the warm weather disappeared, Thomas ended up with croup, and Dane dislocated his elbow, AGAIN. (Not to be deterred, as we write this blog we are planning to head back there again for a couple of days, and the boys are fine btw.) We spent the week doing a fair bit of exploring and four wheel driving and tried hard to catch a feed of fish. The sun came out on the last day so we watched a sensational sunset safely ensconced at the pub with a coldy in hand, it wasn’t all bad.
We had planned for our next stop to be at Airlie Beach so we could hire a catamaran and sail the Whitsunday Islands but the weather forecast looked really miserable. A quick consultation of the map and a nod of the heads saw us lock in a new plan, to drive1300 km’s in two days for a surprise visit with my brother Brendan in Cairns. Brendan was holidaying with his family and in laws and had previously asked if we could make it but we didn’t think we would. We set off at first light, 5.30am, and drove and drove and drove, and then we drove some more. We knocked off over 800 km’s that day, our biggest ever. The 500 kilometres the next day seemed like a walk in the park and we arrived at Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort a little after one o’clock. As I was parking the caravan, and Loreta and the kids were walking from reception to our site, Brendan and a few of the “extended family” drove in the front gate and ran into us. I think they were more than a little surprised!
It was great to catch up with Brendan and Narelle and the kids, and all of Narelle’s family who join our family every year for a camping holiday. We had a great time with everyone in Cairns over the next five days, and to share it unexpectedly with family and friends was awesome. It felt a bit like a holiday within the holiday. The weather was amazing, probably about six or seven degrees warmer than Seventeen Seventy, so in between pool sessions with the nine kids we all took day trips out and about exploring the surrounding area, the chicks had a girls day out, and Loreta and I had a boozy lunch thanks to Brendan and Narelle’s babysitting services.
All the kids had a great time catching up with their cousins. It was pretty handy having a couple of older ones there also to whisk our boys away to the pool or playground when we didn’t have the energy, or just wanted a little bit of time to ourselves. Cairns Coconut Resort, like Cairns itself, is an incredible place! The perfectly manicured grounds, and tropical vegetation and climate really gives a resort feel unlike any other caravan park we have been to. Sorry Blue Dolphin in Yamba, they take the choccies here, but technically they’re not actually a caravan park. Unfortunately those with real jobs had to head back to reality at some stage so before long we had to say our goodbyes.
So it was back to just the boys, Loreta and I. We decided to stay on at Coconuts another few days as we were to busy hanging out with everyone to see and do everything we wanted in and around Cairns. The Daintree Rainforest is one of those iconic places we had to see, and was on our first draft list of destinations when the Lapyear idea was in its infancy. We did a day trip from Cairns to Mossman Gorge and Daintree village. We were going to add in Cape Tribulation as well but it would have been to much for one day so we gave it a miss, oh well, next time.
No trip to Far North Queensland would be complete without a trip to the Great Barrier Reef, and Cairns is the perfect jump off point. Green Island is the closest part of the barrier reef to the main land, approximately 50 minutes by boat. We took a tour on a glass bottom boat with the boys which was incredible, and then I did a snorkeling tour which was even better. The half day tour is perfect for families with young kids, you get to do everything you want but not be stuck out at sea all day.
Another check of the weather forecast in Airlie Beach and it had improved dramatically so we started to back track in order to do a bare boat charter. We stopped over night in the free camp at Babinda Boulders, arguably the best free camp we have seen, even though it was pissing down with rain! It was a good base to check out The Boulders and Milla Milla Falls which are quite spectacular, it also is a great swimming hole, so I decided to have my first bath for the trip!
Next stop was Townsville where in between getting the car serviced and running errands we never seemed to have time to do anything. We are planning on heading back their for another few days to see and do what we wanted. From there it was only 270kms to Airlie Beach, however, 140kms down the road disaster struck! With a semi trailer up our bum, we lost all power and I realised that the engine was red hot. Heart in our mouths moment for a while there as the shoulder on the Bruce Highway is two foot wide and then falls away into a two foot ditch so nowhere to go. Thankfully with our hazards on the truckie backed off and a suitable area to pull off the road appeared. But it was too late, she was cooked! The first priority was to get Loreta and the boys to a safe place while we waited two hours in the baking sun, with no shade, for the tow truck to show up. The next priority was figuring out how we where going to get the caravan to Airlie Beach as we had booked and paid for the charter. Thankfully our friends Nick and Tracey where already in town and after setting up his caravan Nick came to the rescue. We arrived into Bowen where I met Nick and we drove back to the caravan while Loreta and the boys hung out for two hours in the shade at the foreshore. A couple of hours later we where back in Bowen with the van attached, about to pick up Loreta and the kids when she noticed the trailer plug had come loose from the car and obliterated itself dragging along the road. Here we were at dusk, an hour from Airlie with no lights, could this day get any worse!? We had no choice but to hoof it, which we did, and thankfully arrived safely in Airlie just after dark, ready to board our catamaran the next day.
Happy days! The catamaran was a great distraction from the drama’s of the previous day. Seven nights sailing The Whitsunday and skippering our “own” catamaran – Lunasea, was just the tonic. What else can you say, (beep) its The Whitsunday Islands!
We spent our first night in Nara Inlet and then we sailed around Whitsunday Island past Haymen Island. We snorkeled in Butterfly Bay, took in the breath taking view of Whitehaven Beach from Hill Inlet lookout and then had a magnificent sail through Solway Passage to Hamilton Island. A night spent at Hamo soaking up the resort lifestyle was pretty cool. The rest of the time we where anchored in Cid Harbour enjoying the beautiful Whitsunday Island itself. Our last day was another great sail back to Able Point Marina at Airlie Beach. We could go on and on about how incredible this was, it truly was a tick off the bucket list. Thanks so much to Nick and Tracy, Calean and Sasha for sharing it with us.
Back in Airlie Beach the prospect of having a car with a cooked motor was foremost in our minds, anyway what will be will be. More on that soon.