17-28 January: North to where the air is clean

Author: Mrs A

Location: Sydney, Newcastle and New Italy, NSW to Noosa, Queensland

Our last post left off while I was having more steroid injections in my neck. Regular followers may recall I had some bad news 6 weeks previously, with my airway closing by about 40%. Well, the good news from this appointment was abundant. Not only had the injections worked to reverse the scarring, but my airway was about 90% open. Even my doctor could hardly believe the results. We drove away from Sydney in torrential rain literally breathing a sigh of relief knowing we could enjoy the next few weeks touring without worrying.

Our first stop was Newcastle, a couple of hours north of Sydney, where we spent a fun evening catching up over beers, wine and curry with our friends Chris and Karen in their new-to-them home. Saturday morning saw us pull away early and start heading north, a roadside rest area in a tiny settlement called New Italy our destination for the night.

Feeling pleased we’re in a four wheel drive as we drive through floods in northern NSW

The rain brought with it some slightly cooler temperatures, and we enjoyed a peaceful night’s sleep in our comfortable Zone, sheltered from the weather and all outside.

We continued our journey up into Queensland, switching our watches back an hour as we crossed the border and headed to Twin Waters where we pulled up outside the home of some fellow Zone owners, Peter and Mary. They kindly invited the three of us into their air conditioned home – Tassie wasted no time settling in and after a tour around the premises looking for geckos relaxed for a nap on their bed.

Fine overnight parking in Twin Waters just south of Coolum Beach

Monday morning we dropped off the caravan at the Zone factory for a service in Coolum, and continued in the car up to Noosaville to stay with our friends Wendy and Ray.

Our friends are about to trade in their waterfront apartment for one with broader sweeping views of lake, river and bush, so we made the most of the Noosa River views for the last time. Their landlord has put the apartment up for sale in all its original 1970s glory. It needs substantial renovations and upgrading – the owner wants a couple of million dollars for it, if you have some spare cash…

We were treated to a fabulous sunset on our first night…

A very special sunset

And on our second night a very dramatic storm which we watched roll in from the west:

Glimmers of the setting sun just visible under the storm front as it looms over
Drama in the skies
Hundreds of lighting strikes

During the days, Mark and I made use of being surrounded by water to get out on the kayak, exploring the river and lake, investigating some of the sand islands and inlets in the Noosa River mouth. The water really is the best place to be at this time of year, with the humidity at 70% and upwards with days over 30 degrees centigrade.

We saw giant sea eagles and a pair of curious chestnut winged brahminy kites hunting along the waterways, stingrays and spotted leopard rays cruising along the shallow waters looking for food.

Interesting mangrove lined waterways, rich in bird life and many rays
Beautiful beaches and warm waters for swimming – no that’s not a beer – a cup of herbal tea!

A showery morning saw us heading out to the national park for a walk, the rain quite refreshing as we hiked through 12km of beautiful scenery.

Rainforest looking its tropical best in this weather, with a strangler fig winding its way down its host tree and scribbly bark trees shining white
Our loop walk tools us back into Noosa via the coast
A well disguised koala dozes high up in a eucalyptus tree

We enjoyed many delicious meals at home with the multi million dollar view, but also went out one evening to Parkridge, near Ray and Wendy’s soon to be new home, at a restaurant called Fish. We had great seafood accompanied by a very tasty riesling.

Cheers! Gorgeous meal and company

On Saturday evening Mark and I were met at the private jetty by our friends Brian and Caroline (former Sydneysiders who moved up here several years ago), who wizzed us out via motorboat to their houseboat on the river. There we enjoyed a glass of wine and a BBQ as the sun went down across the water. Life’s not too bad, is it?

Caroline and I catching up on news
Hamish and Hannah help Brian bring the boat in after a run back to shore to get the all essential matches for the BBQ!
A fine view from the back of the boat

We finished off our week with Ray and Wendy, enjoying a fine Australia Day with a visit to Noosa farmer’s markets in the morning, a jump in the surf at Sunshine Beach, delicious lunch and a sunset dinner on the balcony.

We never tired of this dinner view
Enjoying an end of day beer
A glass of rosé for me
And another fine sunset to see in the new week

What an incredible few days we have had. We feel so privileged by the kindness shown to us – not only by longtime friends, but by generous strangers who welcomed us into their home simply because we made the same choice of caravan. It must be something in the Zoner water.

It’s been hot and humid in Queensland, which was as we expected, but not completely unbearable (as long as you can escape into some air conditioning!). We’ve still had an amazing time, explored on foot and by water, seen some wonderful sunsets, birds and wildlife. It’s one hard area to leave, but now it’s time to start heading south, back towards Sydney. Goodbye Noosaville, I’m sure we’ll be back.

We’re sure Miss Tassie will miss this view too…

3-4 September: Heading south & back into NSW

Author: Mrs A

Monday – Location: Noosa to Coolum Beach, then to Brisbane

We were all sad to say farewell to our friends Ray and Wendy in Noosa, particularly Tassie, who had become accustomed to her choice of laps and enjoyed her days relaxing on the daybed watching the activity on the river. But it was time to collect our Zone from its couple of days of pampering and head on our way.

We called into Belmondo’s on the way out of Noosa, finding ourselves spending a ridiculous amount of money on a handful of items, before heading south to Coolum, the home of Zone.

Before long, we were pulling away, and heading on the highway south to stay the night with our fellow Zoners, Libby and Phil.We had a brief whirlwind of time to transfer our cases and food back into the caravan, dig out the smart clothes and get changed, before the four of us drove into Brisbane for the evening.

The weather has been tumultuous – really cold for Brisbane (about 15 degrees centigrade!) and wet – but as we arrived at South Bank the clouds lifted to give us a fabulous display across the river into the city.After this, we parted ways, Phil and Libby ending up at a pub helping celebrate a nephew’s birthday, while Mr A and I joined three lovely ladies for dinner in a French restaurant beside the water.

I’ve been invited to talk at the Australian Society of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery here in Brisbane next March regarding my work with the rare disease I have, idiopathic subglottic stenosis. Two of the ladies we met were paediatric ENT surgeons here in Brisbane, and the third worked at a pharmaceutical company, supplying equipment for the surgeons, and a sponsor for the event.

We had a lovely evening, delicious food, and I got to talk about a cause very close to my heart (and airway!). I’m looking forward to next year’s event already and all the good it can potentially do.

Our very generous hosts collected us at the end of our meal, and whisked us back to their home for warm drinks and conversation. Such incredible kindness from friends we only met for the first time in March this year!

Tuesday – location: Brisbane, Samford – Queensland and Woombah, New South Wales

Breakfast was our first port of call, the four of us heading down into the nearby village of Samford to Phil and Libby’s favourite café, Black Sheep. Delicious Eggs Benedict for three, and a breakfast wrap for me, and we were all happy campers, definitely not in need of lunch today!

We had a chance to admire the five plus acre property we’re staying on, full of birds, rolling hills and bushland – just beautiful – before our hosts escorted us on our way via their secret route to the main road south.

There followed a stressful few hours on the M1 motorway, packed full of tailgating semitrailers and road trains going much too fast for the wet conditions.

We finally pulled off the road at the little settlement of Woombah, breathing a sigh of relief as we left behind the noise and the traffic and set up camp in a site with a fabulous view.We have probably driven past this area a dozen times without any awareness of what’s here, but it’s a lovely rural settlement sat on the banks of the Clarence River close to the estuary. There are over 100 islands in the wide river here, the nearest to us being Goodwood Island.

In need of fresh air and exercise, we set up camp, donned our rain coats and headed off for a walk.The sun was starting to set so we only went a couple of kilometres, crossing over the bridge to Goodwood Island and checking out the wet sugar cane fields before returning for the evening.More rain and thunder entertained us, a novelty after the dry and drought of the inland areas. Sadly, it seems the rain is sticking to the coast, not helping out the farmers this time.

We’ll continue our journey south tomorrow, and with a continued forecast of rain, have not made any plans for where we might end up…all part of the adventure!

30 August – 2 September: Noosa…we love yer!

Author: Mr A

Location: Noosaville, Noosa River, Queensland

Thursday: We left Tin Can Bay to drive down to Coolum and drop our van off at Zone for a service. I was reflecting on how well things had gone as we approach the final leg of this trip….Lo and behold, a logging truck approaches on the other side of the road, and suddenly there’s a big crash as a massive stone puts a hole in our windscreen and showers Catherine and Tassie with shards of glass!

We quickly paint the broken area with nail polish lacquer to prevent the cracks spreading. A phone call to NRMA and a repair is easily organised. It could have been a lot nastier if the windscreen had totally shattered.

We arrived at Zone and ran through the job sheet of minor warranty work and service items, then left them to it and headed up to Noosa. Our friends who live there had invited us to stay with them for the weekend. Just driving along the river to their place brought back so many happy memories from our last stay here on the way up the coast back in April.

We all piled into their car and headed for lunch to one of our favourite spots in town, Belmondo’s, a deli on steroids. You can find every kind of produce here and lunch was a taste sensation after so many outback miles of fine food deprivation!

Back at Wendy and Ray’s apartment, the next treat is a quick trip out on their boat up the river. The water is pristine after weeks with no rain.We chat about our plan to come and rent here when we have had enough of our full time nomadic phase. It certainly is nice to be in an apartment again with endless water on tap and a toilet I don’t have to empty every morning! Tassie also approves, taking up her position on the day bed watching the non-stop action on the river. Watching the sunset turn the water to red, we both feel that we want to see this view a LOT more.

Friday: The windscreen repairer made short work of popping in a new one, and we are ready to roll. We met up with some fellow Zoners in the evening, plus Caroline and Brian, with their lovely kids, Hannah and Hamish, who we knew from Sydney before they took the plunge and moved up here. It was a great evening, and reminds us how much we miss friends being on the road and constantly travelling.

Saturday: We headed off to the Eumundi markets, we had loved them last time we visited and had some present buying to do.All sorts of local folk are selling their wares, or cooking up tasty treats. We could so get used to this life!

Back in Noosa we had a bit of a special dinner planned with our fabulous hosts. A new restaurant had just opened up down the road, so we gave it a whirl. What awesome food, very innovative taste combinations right from the pre-dinner coacktails. I had a cheeky little number containing bourbon, Shiraz (yes!) sugar and lemon. Delicious – check out YoYo next time you’re up this way.Sunday: A little worse for wear this morning, it was market time again – this time at the local Noosa farmers market. It seems the whole town turns out to buy their weekly fruit and veg, so you can see it is a bit of a social catch up as well. The food we buy is all just so yummy. Fresh olives with flavours that just leap out at you. Nitrate free bacon. Oranges and apples that are bursting with juice.

Our hosts again take us out on their boat and we pull up onto the white sand at the mouth of the river and wander down the beach. It’s just simply the most beautiful lifestyle I can imagine.We come back and pile into the fresh produce for lunch.

No wonder everyone we meet here is so friendly and jolly. Yes, its an expensive area to live in compared to other parts of Queensland, but if you can afford it why wouldn’t you try it? It will be interesting to be here through the hot and muggy three months of summer though. Let’s see…

To finish off the weekend we went to the Sunset Bar for a couple of drinks…guess why they called it that?What a view. Great beer on tap, free live music, good bar service. I could enjoy making this a regular Sunday night catch up spot with friends!

27-29 August: Back on the Fraser Coast in Tin Can Bay

Author: Mrs A

Location: Tin Can Bay, Queensland

Monday: We packed up and moved on from Seventeen-Seventy, heading south. Our destination was the bizarrely named Tin Can Bay, due east of Gympie and just north of Noosa.

The origins of its name are unclear, but there is some suspicion it is linked to an Aboriginal word which sounds similar to Tin Can – perhaps meaning mangroves, dugongs or vine with large ribbed leaves. I think it is very odd that nobody has recorded the reason for the name given it was only named in 1937.

We arrived early afternoon and set up in the campground. We’re in a quiet suburban location, surrounded by melaleuca trees and birds. We jumped on the bikes for an explore.

Tin Can Bay is known for its tame humpback dolphins which visit the point each morning for fish and to delight visitors young and old. It’s a fishing port, with a working marina. The bay itself is tidal, and we arrived at low tide to see boats strewn around the mud flats like stranded whales.

We remembered driving up Rainbow Beach near here with my mum a few years ago, before taking the ferry over to Fraser Island.

Tuesday: It was slow start to the day with Miss Tassie enjoying the sunshine and exploring our little garden site. We’ve no canine neighbours so she feels relatively safe here, though still quite shy of other people. The caravan is always her ‘safe Zone’ – any perception of danger and she rushes back inside.

Mr A and I decided we should get out and do some walking, and a little research online and we found the Cooloola Wilderness Trail started a short drive away. This trail is generally a 2-3 day hike all the way down to Elanda, on the outskirts of Noosa, but we thought we would try a 10km return walk just to stretch the legs.And what a beautiful walk it is. We are days away from the offical start of spring here (1st September) but the wildflowers were out in abundance.Several varieties of boronia, teatree, bottlebrush, peas, heath, eucalypts and more brightened our pathway, accompanied by the rhythmic hum of insects feeding on the nectar. It really was good for the soul and reminded us how much we love bush walking at this time of year.The pathway was well marked and predominantly white sand or grass, very easy walking with a couple of water crossings along the way. The landscape was quite open with good views to the east, across to the Great Sandy National Park.Even the trunks of the gum trees were beautiful!We stopped walking after around 5km when we saw the path dropping steeply downhill, remembering we had to turn around at some point and return via the same route.We definitely recommend getting out and enjoying the Australian bush at this time of year.

Returning to camp we had a couple of hours’ rest before deciding to do some more exploring on two wheels. We rode up to the marina and followed the point around, finishing another 10km circuit before dinner.

Wednesday: The day commenced with a little US trip planning, continued with a bbq brunch, and proceeded with a great deal of cleaning inside and out.

The mobile apartment is off to its birthplace tomorrow for a long weekend, having a little TLC from the Zone crew for its latest service. Meanwhile, the three of us are off to Noosa for some civilisation with friends.

Saturday 20 April – Markets and a Zone meet up

Author: Mr A

Location: Eumundi & Kenilworth

We had heard so many good things about the Eumundi markets, it was time to see for ourselves what all the fuss was about. Apparently they started with a couple setting up a craft stall, and have grown to over 650 stalls with over 1.6 million visitors a year. I love their branding: ‘Make it, bake it, grow it or sow it”. Every kind of artisan product can be found here, with an emphasis on locally made and grown.We were soon sampling a plate of Tibetan dumplings, I had an Argentinian empanada which was simply delicious, also some dairy free donuts packed to go. We then spotted the Japanese pancake stall, we had not seen these since Sydney. Wow…a taste sensation.Suitably sated we picked up a small bowl from a pottery stall we could use a mortar, plenty of peanuts and chillies to grind up for our Pad Thai creation for instance.

Some unusual stalls caught our eye, a woman sporting a snake around her middle for instance! Musicians were everywhere, and pretty accomplished ones at that.

What a great market! All too soon we thought we should head back to camp, we decided one more run down the Mary river was called for.We all then started to prepare the camp for tonight’s visitors from Zone RV. They had kindly offered to give up their Saturday afternoon and evening and have a bit of a chat with us about our experiences with their products and service.It was great to hear Dave Biggar, one of the directors, talk about some of the initiatives they are taking to mature their build processes and strive to offer even an more consistent quality experience to their new customers. He was joined by key members of the Zone team in customer support, systems improvement and marketing. There were 14 customers there, and all of us really appreciated the effort the team made to come and meet us and openly discuss where they were at as a business and seek input from us on their initiatives.One of the customers, Phil Clem, had a surprise for everyone as darkness drew in. He had brought along an enormous hollow tree trunk to burn on the campfire, and had taken the trouble to carve out ‘Zone RV’ into the side with a chainsaw, so when the fire really got going the letters shone out. What a star.

It seemed a fun and educative night was had by all, and we were very grateful for the effort they made to come out and visit. Their journey to being a leader in the industry has not been an easy one. They have pushed the boundaries on design with materials and finish. That doesn’t come easily, and clearly there have been some significant hurdles along the way. But these guys have pushed through and are now at the stage where they just need to bed down this innovation with robust processes allowing on time, on spec builds at the lowest cost to them and their customers. We think they will do it, and are proud to have been a small part of their journey.

Friday 20 April: Paddling the Mary River

Author: Mrs A

Location: Kenilworth, Queensland

Friday morning dawned bright and sunny, so Mr A, Phil, Greg and I drove up into Kenilworth to find somewhere upstream to drop our kayaks and Packrafts in. After a little hunting around plus Googling someone else’s kayaking blog we found a park beside the show ground with water access and off we went.Greg had only paddled a Canadian canoe in the past, so the sit on top kayak was a new experience for him, but he did really well. We took our time, enjoying the scenery and birds, mostly letting the current guide us down the gravel races (we prefer to call them rapids!)Rainbow bee eaters, cormorants, black kites, red backed wrens…the list of birdlife was endless and made the paddle even more interesting.The Mary River and its surrounding valley was saved from being flooded for a reservoir by the discovery of an extremely rare fish. The Australian Lungfish is only naturally present in this river and one other in Australia. Lungfish fossils were found in New South Wales which date back 100 million years, virtually unchanged, making this creature a living fossil and really important ecologically.

The river is also the only known home of a turtle which breathes through its tail – one of the top 25 most endangered turtles in the world! A very special place indeed.We had a great hour or so paddling downstream 4.5km, finishing up at our camp for showers. Greg then dropped us back at our car and Mr A and I drove to the Kenilworth Hotel (pub). As we walked in we discovered the Sunshine Coast Ukulele Festival was on in town with the pub hosting some of the performances. It’s funny how you can spot a ukulele player – rainbow coloured tie died outfits and funny crocheted hats! Some performances were better than others, but we avoided the stage and found a table inside.

It wasn’t long before Andrew Pitcher, one of Mr A’s old work colleagues (his boss from SAP) arrived to meet us. The first thing he said to me was ‘You’re much shorter than I remember!’. Hah! Must be that last time we met I was in heels after work – that feels like a lifetime ago. We had a lovely catch up, learning all about his life as a developer around these parts.After a great feed, Mr A and I farewelled Andrew and headed back to camp to catch up with the next batch of Zoners who had arrived.

The fire was lit and out came the wine of course for an evening of getting to know one another and learning about the adventures people had enjoyed.

Wednesday 18 April: The conquest of Mount Tinbeerwah

Author: Mrs A

Location: Cooroibah, Sunshine Coast, Queensland

Despite a forecast of showers, we decided to head out on the bikes today and explore some of the local area on two wheels. Cooroibah is literally surrounded by the Noosa hinterland’s forests, reserves and National Parks, with many well maintained mountain bike trails, ranging from easy, through intermediate and up to black – the most challenging.

The rain held off for the first half an hour, but then came on in showers, mostly torrential, cooling us down on a still 27 degree centigrade day.We rode down Gyndier Drive, a locked gate road winding up through the forest. The route is used as part of the Noosa triathlon and twice a year the site for road and race cars which enter the Noosa Hill Climb, with 14 corners to race through – just us there today though, on our private road.

As we came out of the end of the drive we could see that ahead was Mount Tinbeerwah which had a lookout I was keen to climb up to. Mount Tinbeerwah had always been in our sights the past few days down in Noosa, looming to the west like a giant pyramid. We cycled along the access road, catching a glimpse of the lookout appearing very high and far away.

My first thought was ‘I can’t get up there!’…and then my stubbornness kicked in and I was determined to make it. Everything seemed to be against us, as the rain fell down as hail, and then in ridiculously heavy torrents. The road was mostly unpaved and the orange mud ran down in rivers, making the surface sticky and slippery as well as it already being extremely steep. We kept on going. Finally, we reached the carpark with some relief, and the rain stopped!We left the bikes leaning in the car park, hoping nobody would steal them, and hiked up the final kilometre to the summit, with fabulous views over Noosa Heads and the next rain shower heading our way.We enjoyed the view, then retraced our steps (wheels?) a short way before heading through the forest along an ‘easy’ route.I’m certain it is easy when dry, but the wet conditions had us slipping and sliding sideways down the tracks, thankfully staying upright. It was a short way from the end of this track back to our caravan, with just over 20km under our belts. Boiled eggs & Marmite soldiers burned off I think!

After a bite of lunch and hot showers, we headed off into Noosa so Mr A could successfully buy some swimming goggles, and then to the Noosa Yacht and Rowing Club to catch up with some more friends who live in the area.

Brian and Caroline used to live near to us in Sydney, before making the move to the Noosa hinterland back in 2009. Almost a decade later, they’ve brought up two gorgeous children and are very happy in the area. It was so nice to see them and hear how things are going.We headed back to camp for a relaxed evening. We move on from here tomorrow…

Tuesday 17 April – Back to the mothership

Author: Mr A

Location: Cooroibah, Sunshine Coast, Queensland

It was time to tear ourselves away from the hospitality of our friends Ray and Wendy and head back to the Zone, which had been stored up the road on a small campsite we had stayed at before the weekend.

But firstly there was the serious business of some brekky and deli food shopping at our favourite spot… Belmondo’s. This place stocks some seriously good food, even by Noosa standards. It all comes at a suitably high price of course, but at least you feel you are buying something special. I mean just look at these breakfast tacos! My excuse is it did sort of explode on me, oh and it was a “Miserable Monday” fasting day yesterday!Next door to the deli is Eumundi meats, an equally amazing treasure trove of some of the finest, and most expensive, meat goods I have ever seen. Tiny pieces of silverside enough for one at $35. We “just” brought some nitrate free bacon and organic pork sausages that had combined price ticket about the same as our weekly bill at Woolies! I’ve only just learnt about nitrates and why they should be avoided (if you can afford to). I can see why health and life expectancy is so clearly correlated with income. We spent $125 on breakfast, a few veggies and enough meat for a decent fry up. Blimey…

A few minutes drive up the road on the outskirts of Noosa and we were at our little oasis. A hectic few hours of sorting out the car and van and we were in Zone bliss again. The local farm chickens paid us a visit, much to Tassie’s consternation. This is a great place to come and escape Noosa’s pace. We have power, water, brand new toilet, shower, even a firepit and wood! All for $25 a night. Check on WikiCamps for Noosa Acreage Private Stays, then text the owner, Reon, on 0498 141118. He is full of useful tips for what to do around the area, a top bloke. It’s very low key, no website or anything, I think he enjoys chatting to the travellers as much as anything. I wish all our camps were as well kept and inviting as this one. I’d put it in our top 10 sites of the whole trip around Australia, and that’s a big call, as we’ve had some crackers.

Monday 16 April – Treated like royalty in Noosa

Author: Mrs A

Location: Noosaville, Sunshine Coast, Queensland

Another sunny day dawned in Noosa, the mercury climbing up to the early 30s, cooled by the ocean breezes, dancing their way across the river to our hosts’ apartment. We could definitely see ourselves living here, the lifestyle is very appealing.

Ray was determined to help encourage these thoughts, and after we had joined him and Wendy in a dawn swim and herbal tea in Noosa, kindly dropped us by boat to the beach near the famous Hastings Street shopping precinct. We love that there is peace and quiet, just the gentle lapping of the water and sound of the birds, so close to the hustle and bustle of the shops and restaurants.As we ambled down the street, checking out clothing stores, art galleries and jewellery shops, we watched people sitting outside busy restaurants with glasses of rosé, people watching. It so reminded us of Provence, except everyone speaks English and they accept Aussie dollars!

We mostly window shopped, tried on the odd thing or two but didn’t really purchase anything. Before long we got a call from Wendy letting us know that the chariot was returning to collect us, and would we like our towels and swimmers brought along so we could have a dip! Does life get any better than this?!

After a swim near the river mouth, Ray took us on a cruise around Noosa Head’s canals, past the multi million dollar mansions with water frontage and private boat moorings. So fascinating, and across the other side of the river, Noosa National Park, where we could see black kites nesting close to pied and great cormorants. Nature is never far away, and I believe a solid part of the planning for Noosa, to not let construction overtake the natural attraction of the area.A relaxed afternoon continued, with Mr A heading out on his bike to try and find some swimming goggles (a failed mission).We had a quiet evening, alcohol free with a vegetarian dinner shared with all. It was a fasting day, after all! We are so grateful to Wendy and Ray for their friendship and kindness over the past few days, we didn’t know them that well when we arrived last Thursday afternoon, but certainly now hope we have them as friends and soul mates for life.

Back to the caravan tomorrow, next time we’re in a boat it will be an inflatable Packraft!

Sunday 15 April – Captain Sandbank to the rescue

Author: Mr A

Location: Noosaville, Queensland

Sunday is market day in Noosa, so off we set on the bikes, a great level ride on cycle paths for 10 minutes and we were in the middle of one of the best best farmer’s market we have been to in Australia, outside of Sydney and the Margaret River. Every stall had such gorgeous looking fruit and veg, local artisan breads, meats, olives, cheeses and everything else that was yummy!It was sensory overload, and bike panniers were filled at a rate of knots. We tore ourselves away and cycled back, to find Ray and Wendy cooking up a storm of a breaky with their friends Sue and Chris who were house sitting in the apartment downstairs. The nitrate free bacon was definitely the tastiest I can ever remember.Catherine and I then jumped on the bikes again to explore around town, finding ourselves on a network of shared paths and ending up at the stunning main beach at the river mouth.We headed back through a packed out Hastings Street. Sunday would be a day to avoid coming down here, especially with a car, but we cruised past the traffic jams on our bikes of course.

No sooner had we arrived back than we were heading off again out on the boat, this time with a full load of folk, and a dog!Ray negotiated the sandbanks today very carefully, and pulled us up on the other side of the river mouth where the water was rapidly draining out, making for some fun fast floats with the current. We watched kite surfers racing across the water in the stiffening breeze, what amazing skill – it looked exhilarating.Sea eagles again soared overhead. What a place.

On the way back, a boat stopped in the channel called out to let us know they had engine trouble, so Captain Ray came to the rescue and we towed them back to the boat ramp.

Yet another fabulous dinner ended the day, with 8 of us demolishing plates of nachos covered in fresh veggies, a broccoli salad that was so tasty, roast potatoes and some really lean, tender lamb, all from the local market that morning. Wine flowed, laughter followed. What a night!