Bribie Island and the Sunshine Coast At Last

I posted a quick recap of our wedding exactly 4 weeks after the fact, so I’m going to continue that with our trip to Australia. The posts are listed chronologically on our Honeymoon page, so please start there. This post covers Tuesday, October 10 through Thursday, October 13.

We finally got to see my parents’ place on Bribie Island. It was already dark when we arrived on Monday, so Tuesday morning was our first chance to really look around.

We started off with a visit to the Village Deli for an introduction to the local coffee scene.

We borrowed a couple of bikes from my uncle and aunt so we could cycle around. My mom noted various points of interest on our Tour De Bribie. We also caught up with Rufus, who seems to have settled into his life in the tropics after growing up in Edmonton.

Wednesday is market day in Eumundi, a must-see event on your itinerary when visiting the Sunshine Coast. I got a new hat, which is important when spending so much time in the sun.

At lunch, we had a couple of cold Burleigh Brewing beers that really hit the spot. Wendy was interested in the nearby chocolate company and how they dealt with the heat. Short answer: lots of air conditioning.

We moved on to Noosa and then Mooloolaba, including the Loo With a View. Uncle Jon designed the first incarnation back in the day. Some fish, chips, and prawns on the beach tied it all together nicely. We got back to Woorim on Bribie Island just in time for the lunar party that my parents’ friends throw every month.

Thursday was more relaxing. We enjoyed the sun and the calm on the island. I also recall eating a lot of fruit. For me, good fruit is a big draw for Australia. The Lady Finger bananas are smaller and less sweet than the Cavendish ones we get in North America. And the plentiful mangoes and papayas (“paw paws”) are a real treat. We tried to make an Australian version of the Dark and Stormies that we always enjoy in Bermuda. The Bundaberg rum isn’t really dark enough, but there was no reason to complain.

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Final Day in Sydney and Arrival in Brisbane

I posted a quick recap of our wedding exactly 4 weeks after the fact, so I’m going to continue that with our trip to Australia. The posts are listed chronologically on our Honeymoon page, so please start there. This post covers Monday, October 10.

We booked an evening flight up to Brisbane, so we had a full day in Sydney on Monday. Ree suggested we check out the new Westfield mall and especially the food court because she heard it was pretty swanky. We were not disappointed. As Wendy said, it’s what you’d expect from a food court in Dubai.

I tried to meet up with my old friends from when I lived in Sydney in 1999, but they all had families, moved away, and were generally unreachable because I’m terrible at staying in touch. But, by amazing coincidence, Ben and Madeleine from Vancouver happened to be in town so we met at Darling Harbour.

We wanted to return to bills because we enjoyed it so much on Friday. We knew roughly where it was and decided it would be nice to walk there. Unfortunately, we got so caught up in conversation that we missed a turn and were way off course by the time we realized what had happened. We did come across a design store with the wooden lamp shades that Wendy had admired in a few places, so I guess it wasn’t a total loss. Plus it meant we were able to further enjoy the neighborhood architecture and stop by the Bourke Street Bakery again and enjoy it some more because it wasn’t busy this time.

When we finally made it to bills, we were hungry and enjoyed a nice late lunch.

The pavlova was a big hit.

On Madeleine’s advice, we visited the Art Gallery quickly and then it was time to part ways. Wendy and I walked through the Botanical Gardens one more time to find the Wollemi Pine that our Blue Mountains tour guide Steve had mentioned. For a tree species that dates back to the dinosaurs, I was frankly expecting a little more show. It’s displayed nicely enough, but you’d never notice it unless you were specifically looking for it. But then, I guess a big fiberglass T-Rex chasing a triceratops might be a bit tacky. And Sydney is cool.

We relaxed back at the hotel until the taxi came to take us to the airport. Thanks to a confusing difference in daylight savings policy between Queensland and New South Wales, we gained an hour on our flight north to Brisbane, so it wasn’t even that late when we arrived.

Blue Mountains

I posted a quick recap of our wedding exactly 4 weeks after the fact, so I’m going to continue that with our trip to Australia. The posts are listed chronologically on our Honeymoon page, so please start there. This post covers Sunday, October 9.

Early Sunday morning, we set off with Oz Trails on a tour of the Blue Mountains. The views were breathtaking and Wendy saw her first kangaroos, checking off another item from her to-do list.

Scenic World certainly lived up to its name. The boardwalk through the rainforest at the bottom of the funicular was great.

We stopped in Leura for lunch and wandered around the outdoor market happening that day. There was a Christmas store on one of the streets, so Wendy stopped to look for a golden kangaroo ornament. She didn’t find one, but she did find an irresistible sparkly white poodle with a crown.

Jamison Lookout provided even more stunning views, complete with waterfall. Our guide Steve kept us entertained with stories about the local vegetation and history.

We stopped by Sydney Olympic Park on the way back. They have a series of pillars engraved with volunteer names. We found some familiar sounding names, though we haven’t confirmed any direct links. Then our tour ended with a relaxing cruise along the Parramatta River back to Circular Quay.

First 3 Days in Sydney

I posted a quick recap of our wedding exactly 4 weeks after the fact, so I’m going to continue that with our trip to Australia. The posts are listed chronologically on our Honeymoon page, so please start there. This post covers Thursday, October 6 through Saturday, October 8.

4 weeks ago today, we arrived in Sydney for the first leg of our 3-week honeymoon. That was Thursday morning, local time, after we had left Vancouver late Tuesday night, local time. With all the wedding planning and day jobs, we didn’t spend a lot of time planning our trip. Wendy’s aunt and uncle suggested staying at Simpsons of Potts Point and taking their advice was perhaps our first big success as a married couple. Ree was the perfect host. Every morning at breakfast, she would ask what we had planned for the day and enthusiastically offer suggestions if she felt we weren’t spending our time wisely.

Walk out the front door of Simpsons, turn right and head to the end of the block and you’re greeted by a view of the Harbour Bridge. A quick walk down some stairs, past Woolloomooloo Bay and the Royal Botanical Gardens leads to the Opera House, Circular Quay, and the CBD. So that’s what we did.

There was a pie shop along the way that looked like a good place to stop for a bite to eat and give Wendy a chance to sample the local cuisine. Turns out it was the iconic Harry’s Cafe de Wheels and was on my mom’s list of things to see in Sydney that I had conveniently forgotten back at the hotel. So far, things were looking pretty good for this vacation. And yes, that is Colonel Sanders eating a Cafe de Wheels pie in that picture.

When we got to the Opera House, Wendy had a friand at the Opera Bar that so enchanted her that she looked for it everywhere else but never found one that lived up to that first experience.

We walked through the Botanical Gardens, The Domain, and Hyde Park, where we enjoyed Sydney Life, a photography exhibit that included some charming children’s photos along with the more pro-level works.

The next morning (Friday), Ree gave us a photocopied hand-drawn map of her suggested walking tour. It included things like “take the bus from A to B” without any indication of the bus number, bus stop location, etc. but whatever, we were on vacation and things had started so well that we just went with it. Thankfully, everything worked out amazingly and we found all the waypoints on her map and then found our way home without any problems (thanks in part to a second tourist map with street names).

Sydney Harbour National Park or so

Bondi Beach

Wendy wanted to try Kylie Kwong‘s Billy Kong restaurant. It’s small and they don’t take reservations, so we took our chances and just walked over. It was a 45 minute wait, so we walked down the street to bills for some drinks and appetizers. Another great decision! We passed an Apple Store along the way where people had left flowers, apples, and even an old first or second generation iPod for Steve who we had just heard about that morning.

I think Ree’s itinerary went something like this.

  • Catch ferry from Circular Quay to Watson’s Bay.
  • Walk around the park and catch the bus to Bondi Beach.
  • Walk along Bondi Beach to the Icebreakers swimming club for lunch with a good view.
  • Walk to Bronte Beach and catch the bus to a street whose name I’ve forgotten but got us back surprisingly close to Simpsons.

Pretty good so far and it was only our second day in Sydney!

On Saturday, we left with a rough plan of visiting Paddington Markets. We didn’t really know what we were looking for, but we found Paddington, asked a store clerk for directions, and walked a few more blocks as instructed. We arrived at the Paddington town hall, where there was a market showcasing new designers. Interesting, but a little disappointing. We turned around and headed back to Bourke Street for lunch. It turned out that we had stopped a few blocks short and missed the real market.

The Sydney Rides Festival was on, and we happened to stumble on to a venue with some action like a bike polo demo. I get the impression that there’s always something interesting happening in Sydney’s public spaces.

We picked up a great little guide book called Slices of Sydney at the hotel. It listed all kinds of interesting sights in the neighbourhoods around us, including the “sunken water garden at architectural urban park, Paddington Reservoir Gardens.” It looked great in the guidebook photo, so imagine our surprise when we happened to stumble across it while searching for the markets. There was also something about the Surry Hills Library and the Object gallery, so we were happy to find them accidentally too. I didn’t care for the fossilized teddy bears in the Hyperclay exhibit, but at least they were striking and the use of iPads for info kiosks was novel.

Lunch was a great success. Wendy had heard about the Bourke Street Bakery from the blog of David Lebovitz, who had helpfully scouted Sydney just a few days ahead of us. All the locals knew about it too, so there was a long line but it was worth it in the end.