Hilary Falconer Kiwis in Oz 9 July 2008 – Australia 1

THE LIFE OF THE LOTUS EATERS

On my jog this morning I saw what looked like workmenpolishing the concrete path through the picnic area below our apartment with anindustrial floor polisher. On our shopping-walk later on I realised they hadbeen grinding the concrete slab edges, to remove any slight impediments for thehundreds of walkers, joggers and strollers who use the paths each day but Iwouldnt have been surprised if they were polishing the path. Every morning asmall army of fluoro-clad workers is out with the early joggers, scrubbing thefree public barbecues, benches, railings, bins and toilet blocks which line thesix main beaches at Caloundra. Both rubbish and graffiti is rare, grassmeticulously mown the beach-side promenades on the Sunshine Coast are aspristine as the beaches and the turquoise sea.

Kings Beach Caloundras Mt Maunganui is groomed everymorning and I suspect anyone even thinking about chucking a lolly wrapper onthe ground would be accosted by an irate senior citizen on litter-watch. Caloundrahas just been named the Tidiest Town in South East Queensland and is nowgoing for the hotly contested Queensland title a competition rivalling theOlympic Games with many locals.

We can watch this passionate beach culture from our 7thfloor balcony, along with huge container ships on the way to or from Brisbane,a constant procession of pleasure craft crossing the bar between us and BribieIsland, kite surfers, kayakers, fishers, flocks of pelicans and rosellas, whatwe think were a couple of dolphins and what Rhys thought might have been awhale. It is whale season, but they dont normally come into Caloundra althoughthey do have dugongs in the Bribie Island passage, which I would love to see.

At night we can see the glow of Brisbane to the south afterthe wonderful Australian sunsets over the Glasshouse Mountains, where layers ofblue sea and hinterland dissolve into yellow, orange, red, pink then violetskies.

From our first night we have made a date with a glass ofwine and bowl of macadamia nuts out on the south balcony (the best balcony ina state which prizes shade and a breeze over the ever-present sunlight) towatch the sunsets. Its still a little chilly here this time of year about 20during the day and it can get down to single figures at night but itsirresistible watching the little fishing boats racing home and hearing theRosellas come on exactly as the sun sets. And seeing the people no matterwhat time of day there are always people out enjoying the lovely boardwalks,sea and mountain views…complaining how cold it is at 18 degrees maybe…butmaking the most of their wonderful outdoor lifestyle.

We dont pick up our car for a couple of weeks, so have beendoing LOTS of walking…up to 14km a day, followed by a spa, then sauna, whichjust about finishes us off. Walks usually involve a stop for morning coffee andRhys has finally found a place where the coffee meets his exacting standards although still not as good as Macchina. I fear this will be a recurring searchthroughout Oz.

We have also been using public transport, which is verypleasant, clean, frequent and efficient here, although it does take rather along time to get to your destination. Rhys gets a little tetchy if we have toshare a bus with (gasp) noisy school children, but we happily join all thepensioners using the off peak busses as the fares are cheaper than using acar.

We are catching the train to Brisbane at the weekend tovisit the Picasso exhibition. Brisbane and Noosa both had arts festivals inJuly, with very interesting programmes, but we decided it was too tricky withtransport etc…nah, who am I kidding…its so lovely here we couldnt bebothered!

 I have beenvolunteering at the local art gallery its about the same size as ArtsPost with3 full time staff, but with an army of volunteers who person the front desk ona roster system I had to complete an application form!! They are holdingtheir Sunshine Coast Art Prize this month, 1st prize $15,000 and aresidency: www.scap.org.au

So we are not travelling yet, just living the life of theLotus Eaters before we set off on the big lap and doing lots of reading upabout this huge country, where to go and how to get there.

I could take a million photos of Caloundras coastline andsunsets, but here are few…

Posted from Australia:

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17 Oct 2011 – start of travelblog

posted Wednesday August 2008