Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Island Holiday

We love the view from our veranda. On a clear day, we can see to the ocean and across to an island - Moreton Island. Little did I know, that island on the horizon is heaven on earth.

It's Spring Break. (Please think southern hemisphere here.) We just spent 5 lovely days on Moreton Island. It was fabulous, in spite of the cold rain. The best part, of course, was that we were with friends. Everyone had someone to play with.

The first day we drove to the ferry and took a 90 minute boat ride to the island. Only four-wheel drive vehicles are permitted on Moreton Island, as there are no paved roads. The ferry landed and we drove onto the beach. The adventure began. And so did the rain. But we're not the type to let a little rain spoil our fun.

We stayed at the Tangalooma resort. It is a former whaling village. Back in the 1950's they "processed" 6200 humpback whales here. The whale blubber was mostly used in making cosmetics. Now Tangalooma is a beautiful family resort where people come to feed wild dolphins. It was so amazing to watch. Every evening the dolphins would stroll through the harbor. One evening, our children were in the water playing and the dolphins came just a few feet away. The resort had all sorts of fun activities for families: snorkeling the sunken ships in the harbor, tennis, ATV's, movies, food, karaoke, basketball, ping pong, boules, croquet, archery, "sledding" the sand dunes in the "desert" - and best of all, beaches. Sand is our favorite toy. We have sand collecting in all of our pockets, but it was worth it - the kids had a ball playing in the sand.

Our second day we took a drive around the island. Driving on the beaches is a ball. Driving across the island was a bit more treacherous, but so beautiful. There were flocks of beautiful little rainbow bee-eater birds, and we nearly ran over a large (2 m) snake (most likely a carpet pithon.) We drove to the lighthouse and then back along the beach.

People often see humpback whales from the lighthouse, but they weren't showing off that day.

We drove back along the eastern side of the island. The beach was amazing.

The most memorable thing we saw though, was 2 dead sea turtles and a manta ray. The turtles were huge. They often mistake plastic bags for jelly fish (their main source of food) and smother. (We'll be using cloth bags, thanks.) The ray was 7-8 feet across.

After the eastern beach, we drove to the desert and went sledding. It was fun! The road was very treacherous, but our Pajero was a beast and got us through deep sand and steep hills. The kids gave our car a new name. We're calling it "PJ" now.

The next day, we went on a whale watching trip. This has been a dream of mine most of my life. I saw a whale when I was 5 on a trip from Alaska to Seattle, and I've been interested in whales ever since. I was not disappointed, and I plan to go again. It was cold and rainy, which meant we had most of the ship to ourselves and an unobstructed view.

We saw around 6 humpback whales. They breached and flapped their tails and fins at us. At one point, one of the whales poked it's head out of the water to get a better look at us. The whales were so curious. One of the kids asked if the whales were on a people watching trip. They came to us.

Our fourth day, we went snorkeling on the wrecks near the harbour. The ships were intentionally sunk there, to provide an anchor for a reef. The fish were so colorful. We saw tens of thousands of fish and even a sand shark (small, yellow/brown).

Our final day on the island was sunny and warm. It was heavenly. I spent the morning like a beached whale, while Shon took the kids to do some more sand sledding.

And we headed home (whichmeans I have 14 loads of laundry to do.) Overall, we had a really great time and would love to go back!


Kimberly said...

Jenna just said,"they get to go to a real actual beach." Beats Dierkes I guess. We wish we were there with you! Have fun with laundry...

Julie said...

Wow!! That sounds like an incredible trip. I have always wanted to go whale watching, too. You guys do some amazing and fun things-- what great memories! And-- holy smokes! Is that your daughter or you on the sand by herself/yourself? So gorgeous!

(Juli-- if you ever come and do the TOU again, MAYBE I will try and run:)....I am just so impressed and amazed at you marathoners-- "wow" is all I can say, seriously. And yes-- it was a hot (over 70 in the morning) muggy day-- not a usual thing for around here. I really wasn't prepared well to keep up my electrolytes. I thought about you lots while I ran-- just amazed at your running, and I tried to make conversation with people because I remembered your blog about meeting people on your runs!! You're an inspiration:)

Anthony and Kristie said...

If Shon was the driver of PJ on the treacherous roads I bet he was in heaven. I remember him taking detours to empty parking lots in the winter to practice doughnuts. He had no fear, I think his goal was to make us scream with fright:)

Juli said...

I kept thinking the whole time we were there "I wish my family could see this!"

Julie, I would love to do the TOU again. I think we could plan on maybe 2013. You'll probably leave me in the dust - I'm feeling particularly slow lately! I remember how fast you were back in 8th grade.

Laura Beth said...

Can you guys adopt me? You have such an awesome family and do so many fun things!!