Our First Guests

Well, it happened. We hoped it would happen, and it did. We had our first guests from Canada come visit. Despite the concerns discussed in this post, (mostly that Australia is too far for most people), Dan’s parents made the trip and we had eight awesome, adventure-packed days with them! I think we saw and did it all.

For weeks in advance, Dan was planning what he wanted his parents to see – sites, landmarks, beaches, experiences, animals etc. And I think we did it all in eight days.

Here’s what we did (with a few pictures thrown in for good measure).

Day 1: They flew overnight from LA and landed at 5:30AM. They had no difficulty  with their visitor visa, or customs or biosecurity. They were REMARKABLY fresh off the plane so tune in next week for their tips for beating jet lag.

First we brought them to our place and gave them the (30 second) grand tour. (We have a very little place). Then they unloaded all the goodies they brought us!!

An inventory of the goodies they brought us? Ok!

  • Three sticks of Tom’s Natural Deodorant – Calendula scented
  • Two tubes of Crest Toothpaste (I don’t like the Aussie toothpaste, more on that another time).
  • 15 boxes of KD (HALLELUJAH!!!! – sidenote, I made one for breakfast the next day).
  • Two soap dispensing dishwasher wands, with 8 refill sponges
  • Kernels dill pickle popcorn seasoning

Then we were off to the first of many beaches! The first day we hit two beaches on Bribie Island (Woorim and Bongaree, if you’re curious).

Woorim Beach
This was the Campbells’ very first taste of the Australian Pacific Ocean. And look, they loved it so much they had to lean on each other to take it all in.

Then we had an early night, because the Campbells were tired. And rightfully so. They had, after all, just travelled over 15000 kms.

Day 2:

We drove up to the Sunshine Coast to begin hunting for Kangaroos. We were told a group of roos resides on the Sunshine Coast University campus, so we went there, but did not see any kangas. They must have been in class. We did however, stop in Mooloolah Park for a little walk and found two large kangaroos in the trees. They were far away, but it was still special, because you never forget your first.

This picture is incredibly zoomed in, hence the graininess.

We ate lunch at the first of three pig-themed restaurants (the Hog’s Breath Cafe, followed by the Pig ‘n Whistle, and finally the Three Pigs Tavern).

After lunch we spent the day at the nearby Mooloolaba Beach, where we were gently reminded by a roving unit of lifeguards to only swim in the flagged areas. We were boogie boarding pretty close to shore, but he informed us that we were swimming right by a powerful rip and they’d already done six rescues there that morning. Say no more sir!

A nice lifeguard probably saving our lives.

That evening, we took Ian out for his birthday to Outback Steakhouse (where we learned with disappointment it isn’t even an Aussie chain – its American). Then on the way home we showed Ian and Evelyn the local bats. Evelyn, who is very scared of bats asked us how big they are. “Think a chihuahua with black wings”. She was still shocked to see the size (and number) of bats flapping around in the night sky.

We were very surprised to learn that they are actually considered flying foxes (or bats), and they do not use echo-location to fly (like their North American micro-bat counterparts), nor do they eat insects. They exclusively eat fruit. So – I’m not sure why they fly around at night. Perhaps for fun. Or to meet other bats. Anyway – we’re still learning about the amazing animals here.

Day 3:

We took our guests to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary here in Brisbane. It is the top rated attraction in the city. They were wowed by all sorts of Aussie animals!

The adorable wombat.
The amazing kookaburra (one of my favourite birds here). Listen to their song.
We fed the Lorikeets. Which was a highlight of my day. Possibly my life.
These critters are adorable, and mate for life.
Of course there was a kangaroo petting area. Check out this mom and joey. (interesting fact, ALL baby marsupials are called joeys, not just kangaroos – baby koalas, baby wombats etc).
And of course, koalas, at the Koala sanctuary.

Day 4:

We went to a second animal sanctuary in as many days. The Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary (to which we’d been before) was as amazing as ever.

This chap is a bush-stone curlew. They always look a bit annoyed.
People here call these guys water dragons. I’m not sure if they have another proper name.
And of course, more kangaroos. This burly fellow was my favourite.
This is a turtle. More than that, I do not know. He liked me.

After Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, we drove down to the New South Wales border. It was the furthest south on the Earth they had ever been. Also it was a gorgeous view of the sea.


A southern family selfie!
The view from the tower at the border!
Daniel Campbell, showing off for his parents. He can get up on his board on pretty much any wave now!

Day 5:

We started early and went to Dan’s school. He gave us a tour of the hanger, showed us the planes and choppers they work on, the workshop and we also met his teacher. It was a cool experience!

Daniel, in his element.
Showing off a helicopter. We were discussing if we could get it up and running for a zombie apocalypse.
Then, onto the ferry out to North Stradbroke Island!
Look how excited Dan is to be aboard!
Our living room came fully equipped with a bean bag chair, and a single bed! FINALLY!
Here is the rectangle in which we searched high and low for Dan’s wedding ring. The full story: He was out surfing in the ocean. While he was out, another surfer came out of the water having been stung badly by a jellyfish. As a precaution, I looked up on my cellphone what to do to treat it. Moments later, Dan came out of the water, himself having been stung by a jelly on the hand and arm. His arm started to swell and turn red and burn. We thought he should take off his ring, in case the swelling continued. Dan never loses anything, so no one thought anything of it. A few minutes later, we were breaking camp – shaking out towels, taking down the tent and Dan said, “guys I lost my ring”. I immediately drew a square in the sand, to indicate where he’d been since he last had his ring. We started sifting through the sand, and eventually other people came over to help us. Thankfully (for Dan), Ian found it after 15 or 20 minutes. Pfewf!
Sunset. Post ring-pocolypse.

Day 6:

Our first full day on North Stradbroke Island started out with a nice (short) drive down to Amity Point. (Jaws fans may notice that the town where much of Jaws takes place is called Amity Island, and there were signs on the waters edge that said higher than normal shark activity is common in these waters). Anyway – at Amity Point there is a short pier, with a staircase that goes down to the water (see Day 7 for photo). Rumour has it that if you tap your hand on the water, a dolphin will appear. No word of a lie – that is absolutely true. We saw a dolphin.

The first dolphin we saw off Amity point is in this picture. Somewhere.

We were determined to come back the following day and swim with said dolphin. After Amity, we went back to Cylinder Beach (our favourite spot) and went surfing. Evelyn braved the bounding main and came in up to her armpits!

The bounding main.
All this adventure tires out the good doctor.

As the afternoon wore on, the clouds grew darker and in the end it was a race to the car before the downpour started.

Winding down the night watching the episode where the Simpsons go to Australia (because Bart has to accept responsibility for making an Aussie boy take a collect call. Its a long story. Just watch the episode.

Day 7:

We went back to Amity point to go find this dolphin. The bottom of the staircase below is where you can allegedly find dolphins.

Dan and I, heading out to swim by the staircase – looking for flipper. Or Jaws.
Sadly, we didn’t see much of the dolphin when we were in the water. Here is what we did see.
We also saw this fellow. This is a carpet shark. A wobbegong to be exact. Mostly harmless, unless antagonized, which we would obviously never do.
A fish. Someday I’ll learn names of fish like this. Perhaps a butterfly fish of some variety?
More fish. The water was pretty cloudy, but I could still watch these little dudes swim around all day.
This sea-slug was the biggest I’ve ever seen. At least the length of my arm, and twice as thick.

After snorkelling, we got a better look at the dolphin(s).

A pair of dolphins hanging out at the bottom of the staircase.
Finally, we headed back to Cylinder Beach, and watched a beautiful sunset!
In the evening we met this fellow. A huntsman spider. Thankfully he was on the outside of the glass. Which meant I remained on the inside.
Such mixed feelings.

Day 8:

On our last day on the island, we did probably the best boardwalk-walk I’ve ever done. Or could ever do. On this walk we saw kangaroos, a pod of dolphins, sea turtles, manta rays and birds galore!

Exquisite views!
This un-retouched splendour!
A pod of dolphins!!

As we were killing time, waiting for our ferry ride off the island, we stopped by Myora Springs. The springs themselves were closed, but Ian spotted something in the tree. He was sure it was a koala. I thought the odds of there being a koala in the one random tree we stopped beside on the highway would be astronomical. But once we got the photos home, and blown up – I owed Ian a big apology! He HAD spotted a koala!


So. In conclusion. To all our family left back home. Pack your bags. We’ve set the bar pretty high.


6 thoughts on “Our First Guests”

  1. How good is it to have family come to visit! Not that big a flight after all is it.. Can’t believe you found the ring in the sand.. Also can’t believe you are in the land of superb Cafe food and espresso yet you ordered KD..


  3. Mare and Dan Could not have enjoyed ourselves more ! Thanks again for every tourist attraction and beach we enjoyed! So good to know where you are enjoying your new venture. Being with you both was the best! Look forward to you being home this summer! Bye bye , love you
    PS Your blog is awesome !!

  4. We’ve been in Oz for about 7 months and in 7 days we saw and did the best of everything we’ve done so far in Oz!

    We will need a few more months to go new places so we’ll be ready for our next guests!

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