Monday, September 27, 2010

Fraser Island

Shon here.

I know this sounds really rough but after the 5 days on Moreton Bryce and I and Robert and Ethan went to Fraser Island (North of Moreton about 4 hours) with the young men from church. This wasn't as cush as the resort because we camped but it was still incredible. We drove up Thursday morning. We drove in total almost 250k on sand!! The beach they call 75 mile beach really is 75 miles long. We were able to play beach cricket, gridiron (American Football), baseball, swim in 3 different fresh water lakes, the ocean, and tide pools. We also saw a ship wreck, a light house, whales, a (huge) dead ray, dingos, caught pipis for bait to fish in the surf. One of my favorite days was spent driving. We really put the 4WD through a workout. All I can say is that PJ is the bomb. We had 4 vehicles and 17 people. The only one that never got bogged (stuck) was PJ. In fact PJ snatched 3 vehicles with the snatch strap. I learned tons about sand driving and 4WD. I think it would be tough to find somehow that I could have been more in heaven.

Top 10:
10. Seeing dingos running around the island (they will attack small children so you have to be careful)
9. Driving on sand for 8 days straight!! (that includes Moreton)
8. Learning to snatch cars. You hook up the snatch strap and then just start driving with the snatch strap half extended at 20km/hr and you pull them out. We spent almost an hour pulling cars out with PJ.
7. Swimming in the tide pools and ocean at Champagne Pools. The Aboriginals would catch fish stuck there by the low tide.
6. Doing a flip off a tree into Ocean Lake (the second time). The first one kind of was not a great memory thought it was funny. (See above photo of my leg.)
5. Swimming in Wobby lake. There were kids going down the sand dune on boogie boards that would go half way across the lake.
4. Playing grid iron. I love beach football and lake football.
3. Swimming in Lake McKenzie with it's pure white sand and crystal clear water.
2. Seeing what happens to a RAV 4 at Fraser. Paul your car rocks. Bryce said one of the highlights of his trip was that big jump you did.
1. Hearing the testimonies of the boys at the fireside. Such great young men.

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!

Thursday, September 2, 2010


It is officially spring in Australia. The weather was unseasonably warm today - high of 76 F. It hasn't been quite that warm lately though. It's been down right chilly. That didn't stop my family from swimming in our unheated pool. Shon decided it was time for us to have a little polar bear swim. As the photographer, I managed to evade getting wet. :-) They didn't last long in the water. I took two photos, back to back. By the time the second one took, everyone was almost out!

Bryce had an assignment at his school to have a picture taken reading with a parent in an unusual place. This is what we came up with. You can't see, but the book says "How to Swim."


Dear Mr. White Car,

Please forgive me for dinging your door. I was sure that my daughter would stay in the car for 10 seconds while I ran across the street to get her sister from ballet. (I might add that I was 15 minutes late to pick her up, so she really was sitting there waiting for me.) I had driven past the ballet studio twice looking for parking, so I was happy to have a spot open up, never mind that I had to park with one wheel on the curb because our massive car doesn't fit in the 1950's parking spots on Racecourse Road. Everyone within a 100 meter radius heard the "thunk" when she opened the car door - and smashed the massive door into your cute little white car, leaving a small dent and a 2 cm gash in your paint. I was glad you came out of the coffee shop at that time, because I am not the type to leave without saying what happened. So I'm writing to tell you thank you for not cursing me or my sweet, tutu-clad ballerinas, and for turning down my offer of money and insurance information. I know you were pretty angry - especially considering you've only had the car for 2 weeks. Since I don't know your name and have no way of returning the favour, I'll just have to pay it forward and encourage anyone else who is out there to please be extra nice to someone today, because someone was nice to me.

Thanks and
Kindest regards,

Here are the girls last July near Twin Falls, Idaho.

* "Ta" is short for "thanks," like "hi" means "hello." This is one of my favourite aussie words.