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Back in Time: Christmas in Australia

2009 October 1
by rob

My scheme is having its intended effect. By letting Will be an author on this blog, he has made me jealous. This is my blog! I need to put more content on here!

I’ve got months worth of hand-written journals from Australia, New Zealand and the Cook Islands. I struggled to make myself write them in the theory that I would publish them online. Then I got back to Canada and got lazy.

I’m finally feeling some motivation to catch up on my blog. However, my hand-written journals aren’t really in a format worthy of transcribing directly and publishing online. There journal is written in a terse fashion and requires a lot of polish. Please wish me luck. I’ve got a lot of work cut out for me.

To see where I left off, you can read this post.

December 24, 2008 – Maroochydore, Queensland, Australia

Anticipation! It was almost the big day. Back in Canada, I would normally spend Christmas with my family. It’s a very important holiday. There would be several family gatherings with big meals. I missed my family, but still tried to make sure I’d have a good time in Australia. At least it was HOT here!

I knew stores would be closed tomorrow, so we had to stock up today. The hostel had a couple of barbecue grills on the patio. Meps and I wanted to barbecue SOMETHING fantastic for Christmas Dinner. We walked down to Woolworth’s (the supermarket) to pick up a heap of stuff. It was a nice, short walk through the park along the river. While we were there, we considered buying more alcohol. I, however, over-estimated our supply of goon (cheap boxed wine), and decided that we’d be okay. He he. Oops.

Anyways, the rest of the day was relaxed. I cooked up some stir-fry for dinner with an over-abundance of sweet chili sauce. Man, I love that stuff. Even now, ten months later, Meps tells me that she’s still hooked on the stuff.

We spent the evening hanging out on the patio of the backpackers hostel drinking with the other guests. Amanda (from New Zealand) and Aemon (from Canada) were still there from before. There was also a couple Aussies, a few people from Holland, and a bunch more Canadians.

December 25, 2008

CHRISTMAS DAY!

My ambitions for Christmas were simple. As I had told many people, my only real goals were 1. to go surfing and 2. to have BBQ. I think these two things alone were enough to differentiate my Aussie Christmas from Christmas at home. The side benefits, of course, were to obtain glory and inspire envy. Heh.

I had asked around the day before about the best time and place to go surfing. After consulting tide tables, I was informed that the best time would be in the early morning (e.g.: 7 AM). Ouch. I know that Aussies like to have their crazy early morning swims, but I was OUT for that. I like sleeping in way too much.

So, as expected, Meps and I slept in and had a slow start. During breaky, we decided to drive down to Mooloolaba beach (about ten minutes south of Maroochydore) to attempt some surfing. There were three Dutch people, Roy, Bart, and Babs who drove down with us. They hadn’t been surfing before and were relying on Meps and I to give them some pointers. I’d only been twice, and it had been ten months prior. Heh heh. Poor them!

Mooloolaba Christmas Surfing Crew

Mooloolaba Christmas Surfing Crew

As you can see in the background of the photo, this beach was PACKED.

I played around in the water for about fifteen minutes to see if I remembered how to surf. The answer was, of course, “NO! Surfing is really hard and I suck.” However, I felt that I tried hard enough to be able to make the claim that, “Yes, I went surfing for Christmas” before retiring to the beach to soak up the sun. The hostel let us borrow the surf boards for free, so I didn’t feel any loss at giving up early. Yes, “free surfboards” was one of the reasons I chose this hostel!

Meps tried harder than me, though. Good on her! She didn’t have any pictures of her when she took her lessons the week before, so it was up to me to try and capture photographic evidence that she was surfing on Christmas:

Meps surfing on Christmas

Meps surfing on Christmas

After two hours, our parking time had expired so we all left the beach and returned to the hostel for lunch. We made plans with Bart, Babs, and Roy to go back in the afternoon to try more surfing at the Cottontree beach, but it was well and truly HOT. So HOT that Meps and I decided to skip and be lazy-asses instead.

Hottest. Christmas. Ever.

That evening was so fun. Everyone was barbecuing, drinking, and partying. Meps and I made some FANTASTIC Aussie-style veggie burgers topped with avocado, fried egg, beetroot, lettuce, gruyère cheese, and sweet chili sauce on herb focaccia buns. We also roasted brocolli, eggplant, onion, garlic with olive oil in aluminum foil on the grill. The burgers were so good that I ate two of them and had little space left over for the veggies (though they turned out well, too).

The other people were eating steaks, lobster, prawns and fancy stuff like that. Apparently eating lots of seafood for barbecue is popular in Australia for Christmas. Everyone was drinking plenty.

Unfortunately, Meps and I ran out of goon. Our supply wasn’t nearly as good as I thought it was the day before. No worries! In the true Christmas spirit, the other people kept us solvent with gifts of more goon and cans of XXXX Gold beer.

Christmas: surfing, barbecue, and drinking. What more can you ask for?

December 26, 2008

We wanted to have the rest of our roasted veggies for breaky, but it looked like someone had cleaned out the fridge and thrown them out. Bummer.

Our ambition today was to drive to Noosa (about half an hour north) so I could show Meps around the place. I had spent a week in Noosa back in February with my father and sister. It was a beautiful place, so I wanted to share.

Noosa was much more touristy than I remember. Or, perhaps, it was just as touristy as before and I was more sensitive to it now. Anyways, parking was challenging to find. We had some tasty ice cream near the main beach before setting out on an ambitious walk through the National Park there. Thankfully, the National Park was just as pretty as I remember.

It was another scorching hot and sunny day. Unlike last February, the Sunshine Coast was truly living up to its name. It wasn’t very long before we realized that our walk was a bit too ambitious. We hadn’t brought enough water. It didn’t help that the trails branched a lot and weren’t signposted very well…. we got a little lost. Meps may have suffered a bit of heat stroke. Ooops.

When we finally emerged from the park, I found a tap and guzzled about one litre of water in about one minute. After recovering, we were able to continue our walk to the car. Our walk was over three hours long. We planned to have lunch after getting back to the car. By this point it was probably after 3 PM. Ooops. Bad planning. My apologies, Meps.

I wanted to go for lunch at the same Thai place I went in February, Krung Thep, in Noosaville. Unfortunately, the place was closed over the holidays. Lame. We found an Indian place nearby and had really cheapo veggie thalis for lunch instead. Finally, we stopped off at the big Dan Murphy’s bottleo(their slogan: “You would be mad buying liquor elsewhere!”) to restock our liquor supplies . We got some fancy stuff to treat ourselves (it was Christmas, after all), and a big box of XXXX Gold (30 beers). We wanted to have extra beers to give away to the people at the hostel! Maintaining beer karma is important, after all.

December 27, 2008

More driving and sightseeing today! It was Saturday, so we drove to the famous Eumundi markets (about 10 km southwest of Noosa) to do some shopping and eat some foods. Ugh. This place was packed with so many tourists that I actually felt sick.

I hoped to find an awesome leather Aussie bush hat. I had seen them lots of places, but they were usually expensive. I found one here for only AU$40 (CA$32). Yay!

While I was buying my awesome hat, the sales lady commented on Meps’ ankle. Apparently Meps had scratched it the day before and it wasn’t looking very good. It was red and starting to turn into a cankle. Meps is a trooper, though, and wasn’t complaining about it. The sales lady said that it would probably be a good idea to get a doctor or chemist (a pharmacist) look at it, at least. Okay. We stopped at the chemist’s. The chemist said to go to a doctor. Lovely.

So we drove back to Maroochydore. I left Meps at the walk-in clinic. There was supposed to be a big wait, so I went to the library to use the free internets there to buy some plane tickets. It wasn’t too long, though, when Meps called me and asked to pick her up. The doctor had declared that Meps’ foot was, indeed, infected and prescribed her some iodine cream and antibiotic pills. It was also very important for Meps to keep her foot elevated. NO PROBLEM! The hostel had a hammock.

Meps keeps her foot elevated.  Doctor's orders!

Meps keeps her foot elevated. Doctor's orders!

As always, Meps relaxed and drank while I made dinner. Typical!

That night, we met some Aussies that were vacationing at the hostel. They had grown up in the area but had moved to the big city (Brisbane). I guess the stories I heard were true: the Sunshine Coast was where the Aussies themselves would go for vacation. The Gold Coast, with all its glitz and glamour was more for tourists. No wonder I enjoyed the Sunshine Coast much more. The Aussies took us out to the Mooloolaba Surf Club (one of their old haunts) for drinking, dancing, and to see a live cover band. They finished off with Bon Jovi. Glorious!

December 28, 2008

Today was our last full day at Cottontree Backpackers in Maroochydore. On the suggestion of fellow Canadian backpacker Aemon, we drove to Gardner’s Falls. As always, I’m a solid sucker for waterfalls and jumping into water.

Gardner’s Falls was kind of pretty but completely overrun with people. There was packs of slow, poky, overdressed Asian tourists and mobs of rowdy, drunken, and underdressed Aussie teenagers. We still had some fun anyways. There was a pretty awesome rope swing that I got to use. It took myself some time to psych myself up to use it, though. It was really high!

Huge rope swing at Gardners Falls

Huge rope swing at Gardner's Falls

Yes, that’s me about to let go and take the plunge! How high would you say that is? Eight or ten metres, I think.

It was a hot day and the water was refreshing. Meps didn’t go for the huge rope swing, but there was a smaller one that she tried. We also enjoyed jumping off of the ledge into the water, too.

We enjoyed a lovely drive back through the hilly countryside back to the backpackers. We still had a lot of XXXX Gold beers to drink before we flew to Sydney tomorrow!


Rob Szumlakowski
Woodstock, Ontario, Canada

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