Friday, December 01, 2006

Bundaberg & Nambour Area

10/28/06 -  11/03/06:  Passage & Arrival

When we were looking for a weather window to Oz, Chris asked me what kind of conditions I would be happy with.  I replied, "10-15 aft of the beam".  "That's way too little [wind]" he told me, but I was talking apparent, and after our 'rough' year I wanted something tame ... something boring.  Good & bad, we didn't quite get 10-15 apparent, usually we had less.  On one hand the seas were smooth and the sun was out; it was fantastic.  On the other hand we motored about half-way to Australia ... the noise and diesel fumes bugging both of us.  In the end though neither of us could complain (in fact whenever we make it somewhere safe, regardless of the trip, we tend not to complain)!  The most excitement in the trip was when a whale shadowed us for a wee bit, and at one point surfaced right behind three fishing lures we were trolling.  We were lucky he didn't snag a hook and relieved when he lost interest in Billabong.  Our trip ended nicely when Chris brought in a 4 ft Wahoo the morning of our arrival.  For a few more details on our passage and arrival click here to read our BLOGs.

11/4/06 - 11/13/06:  Port to Port Rally Events

Our first week in Bundaberg was consumed by various social events put on by the Port to Port Rally.  We ate and drank and ate some more.  We also spotted our first kangaroos!  During one of the Rally BBQs an excited man came running in, announcing there were kangaroos out in the field across the street.  It was funny to watch all the tourist pour out of the tent to go stare at these creatures that were just standing there (eating), much in the same manner as a deer in the headlights.  I tried to get Chris to chase after them so that we could all see them hop, but lucky for him one took off hopping on its own, while I squealed with joy!  The local Australians probably think we are all just a wee bit crazy, after all they see kangaroos nearly daily (just another form of road kill around here).  When one man didn't get up to rush out of the tent the excited man said, "Hey come on there our kangaroos!", to which the local boringly replied "I'm Australian, mate!".

During the day we managed to bus into the 'city' a few times; where we found a 'real' indoor mall and both Kmart & Target!  Yes, it is hard to believe that we are so easily impressed and excited!  The week ended with a tour of the Bundaberg Rum factory and a visit to the local (huge) hardware store.  We covered most of the week, including details on Chris' impressive 'invention' (as seen right) in our BLOGs, so I won't bother to go into all again (click here to see the BLOGs).

11/14/06 - 11/19/06

This was pretty much a 'down' week for us.  After all the drinking and eating during the previous week we needed a bit of time off (not to mention some exercise).  We still managed to be social, including visiting with an older couple we had met at one of the P2P Rally events.  Joan and Fred, both in their eighties, had us over to their house for an excellent meal (honey prawns), and entertained us with stories from their past, including some interesting tales from Africa.  If we have learned anything from our travels, it is about hospitality and the kindness of locals to complete strangers.

One of the highlights of the week was the purchase of a small-ish 12 volt freezer.  A freezer at last!  For the most part Chris had always claimed freezers were a luxury we didn't really need ... and of course three years without proves he is right, but ahh the joy of having one!  In truth, I owe it to his growing interest in fishing ... the only way he can fish more (and catch more) is if we can preserve it for longer periods (ie freeze it).  While I'm excited about more fish, my real joy comes from the tinkling sound of ice cubes clunking against the side of my glass!!!

11/20/06 - 11/27/06:  Thanksgiving in Nambour

We were quite excited to finally bring Billabong to Australia, as when we purchased her she was originally registered in Mooloolaba, Australia, and her previous owners now reside in Australia.  So we had been looking forward to visiting Steve & Lynne and bringing Billabong back to her roots!

Monday we hopped aboard a bus and after five, mostly boring, hours arrived in Nambour.  Steve brought us to their house, which he had built himself, and instantly we were in love with the place.  The house is simple, uncluttered, and airy; surrounded by a walk-around deck and filled with endless windows.  The yard is vast and green, with a terrific garden, papaya trees and perfect palm trees.  And best yet, tons of exotic colorful birds visited hourly, enjoying the feeders, mini pond and bird bath.  Chris instantly grew worried; how would he ever drag me away from this land paradise, back aboard Billabong?

We ended up staying a week.  Enjoying time on the deck watching the birds, various street fairs and farmer's markets, a few scenic drives, and a visit to Mooloolaba.  With the huge kitchen and terrific garden we did a lot of cooking & eating (what's new there), including a fantastic traditional Thanksgiving meal.   We also took advantage of endless power, lots of water, decent internet, and the good 'ol T.V.!  It was especially good that Steve and Chris could talk boat stuff, while Lynne and I could talk anything but!  We loved every minute of it, but still missed Billabong and felt the itch to finally move on and begin trekking south.  So we returned to the boat on Monday with plans to get the boat ready and start looking for a good weather window south.

11/27/06 - 12/01/06

The next four days were spent cleaning and organizing ... basically trying to get all the crap put back away!  We celebrated a second Thanksgiving with some of the cruisers and said goodbye to some friends who wouldn't be going South.  We also, finally, after months of indecision, decided that we would not ship our boat from Australia to the Mediterranean, but rather would join the Darwin to Indonesia Rally in July 2007.  This was a huge decision for us, and we'd spent a number of days and nights debating our next steps after Australia.  We still aren't sure what we'll do after Thailand ... but hey, that's a whole 'nother year away!!!

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