Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fall Break

It's the end of March, which means it's time for Fall Break! (Think southern hemisphere here.)  We climbed into PJ (our car) and headed to Straddie:   North Stradbroke Island.  (Obviously, we didn't drive in the water, like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  We took the ferry!)

Trip highlights:

The ocean.   Our unit was on the ground floor, but the apartments were on a cliff, so we had a great view.    We fell asleep to the sound of the ocean, and could see the surfers below.  I love the ocean.  (sigh) 

Unfortunately, the highlight was also our lowlight.  We drove down on an unpatroled beach about 2 km from the surf and rescue club, in what looked like a pretty placid spot.  We had 4 adults watching the kids, and one of them was in the water with them.  The kids hopped on their boogie boards and were having a great time.  Bryce's board had a broken tether, so he quickly lost his, but we weren't worried - the water was shallow and he is a strong swimmer.  A family's car was stuck in the dunes behind us, so I walked back to see if they needed help.  The next thing I knew, Shon was jumping in the car, yelling that he was getting the lifeguard.  Bryce was caught in a rip.  I looked up just in time to see him put his hand in the air (the signal that you need rescuing) 100 m away from where he had just been, and he was moving fast!  I couldn't believe how quickly the conditions changed.  Somehow he found a sand bar and stood up.  Shon turned around and came back.   With a little adult help, we got him back on dry ground.  Maybe 2 minutes after it all started, a lifeguard was there with a Seadoo, ready to help, though by that point, everything was under control.  Amazing.  The lifeguards must have been sitting in their station, watching us with powerful binoculars, knowing that we were going to get in trouble.  He must have really scrambled to get to us so fast.  Thank you, Mr. Lifeguard!  It could have just as easily been one of the little kids that got pulled out to sea.  As it was, it took an hour for the adrenaline to wear off.  And I will never swim on an unmanned beach. 

Wildlife. We saw dolphins.  They were just hanging out by the jetty, so Emily ran down and put her hand in the water, and they came right up to her!  (The fishermen on the dock weren't so thrilled - they scared all of the fish away!)  Call me American, but it still surprises me every time I see a kangaroo.  We saw a lot.  Goanna lizards kept walking past our veranda, like small dinosaurs.  It was fun to watch one climb up a tree too.  We also watched a huge sea eagle fish as we drove along the beach.  Abby and I explored the tidal pools (anemonae, crabs, little fish) and saw an awesome beetle.  It was electric blue with orange spots.   We're not in Kansas any more. . .

Straddie is a popular spot for sea turtles to nest.  This year they had 14 nests.  They had mostly all hatched before we arrived.

 Along with the magestic wildlife, we also saw some of the more annoying  varieties.  I saw the largest huntsman spider I have ever seen!  It was easily larger than my hand span.  It was just hanging out in the game room.  We also saw cane toads and hords of baby frogs and tad poles.  And one ferral cat. 

Off-roading.  PJ didn't let us down.  We never even got stuck!  (We tried our hardest. . . )   We drove through massive pot holes, and washed out roads.  I will be cleaning red mud and sand out of our car for a week!  We learned the value of a good map. 

Surfing!  We took surfing lessons.  Kids are awesome.  They just pop right up.  Even we grown-ups learned quickly:  pick a good wave, paddle hard, get up quick (not on your knees!) and don't look down.  It was so fun, but the next morning it felt like I had done a hundred push-ups (which I had).

photo courtesy of Andrea Call.

The very best part of our holiday was spending time with friends and our family, and now we have 2 lovely weeks left to enjoy together in our school holiday.


Wendy McDonagh-Valentine said...

Hi Juli. I just found your blog and wanted to say hello to you. I've always been in awe of the wonderful wildlife that Australian bloggers take pics of in their own backyard. I can't even imagine seeing a koala or kangaroo bouncing around outside my window!! Your pics were wonderful and I'm thrilled that you were able to see a dolphin that close up. Your kids must've gone crazy with delight!!! : )

~ Wendy

AJ Curtis said...

Looks like you had a great time. That's really cool about the scenery and your surfing family.

Jennifer said...

Wow--what an adventure! So glad no one got hurt at the beach.

I forgot about the goannas! We had one that visited our flat all the time. We named her Joanna.

Anthony and Kristie said...

So fun. I am glad Bryce was okay. The ocean is amazing and so fun, but the power it holds is a little scary.

Kendra said...

Any word that ended with -y I automatically assumed was an Australian abreviation. And then I remembered that we call it a ferry, too. Haha.

You guys are having so much fun! I'm really jealous of the sunshine in all your photos.