Leaving Hervey Bay behind we set off on the 300km drive down the Bruce Highway to Brisbane. Passing through Maryborough and Gympie the scenery is bush and yet again we see the evidence of bush fires. South of Gympie we head towards the coast and hit the Blackhall Range, which offers a change of scenery with thick forests and lush pastures. We mean to stop off at the highland village of Eumundi, but we miss the exit and instead of turning around (we’ll have to wait till the next exit on the dual carriageway) we come off at the next exit and turn towards the coast.
Coolum Beach is on the Sunshine Coast – the 100 golden kilometres stretching from Bribie Island to the Cooloola Coast. We park up and are delighted to see that there are no warning signs about stingers and no enclosures meaning the sea is safe for swimming. A raised boardwalk takes us around the small, rocky coves at the south end of the beach and then down to the endless miles of sandy beach north.
There are hotels and apartments lining the coastal road ready for the summer holiday makers who will descend in the next few weeks. However, the beach is quiet today and visitors are spread out along the vast expanse.
We walk along the beach, paddling in the surf. There are body boarders and surfers taking advantage of the breakers, whilst watched over by life guards at different points on the beach. We manage to complete our 10,000 steps, which keeps me happy even though the day is very hot – high 30’s.
On getting back to the car we decide to continue down the coast as far as we can before returning to the Bruce Highway. We stop near Caloundra for coffee and cake as we ate our sandwiches well before lunch time and Mark needs caffeine to continue driving. The heat hits us like a blast from opening a hot oven when we leave the air-conditioned car.
The journey south takes us past the edge of the Glass House Mountains National Park and we spy one of the conical shaped mountains in the distance. Advertisements line the highway for Steve Irwin’s Australian Zoo, which we give a miss. The roads are now very busy as we get closer to Brisbane and we are glad that we managed to find an offline SATNAV app.
On reaching the outskirts of Brisbane we enter a toll tunnel which turns out to be 4.8km long, under the river and much of the suburbs. Exiting we are on the busy city centre roads which we follow to the North bank of the River Brisbane. Our Airbnb host meets us at the entrance to the car park and then takes us up to the apartment on the 25th floor.
On entering we are faced by a spectacular view of the river, the city and the South Bank. Floor to ceiling glass doors lead out onto a balcony and in the main bedroom one full wall is glass and there are doors onto the balcony. There is also a concession to Christmas, a tiny gold table decoration with coloured baubles.
Once settled we walk out to have a look around the city. The city is very modern with high skyscrapers and wide street named after British kings and queens in a grid system – very easy to navigate.
There is street art everywhere and a real Christmas atmosphere, which still seems strange in this heat. The large square which City Hall stands in has a huge Christmas tree (strangely for a country with so many trees it is false!) and the front of city hall is lit up with images of nutcrackers, elves and sleighs. We begin to feel the Christmas spirit at last.
On returning to the apartment Marcus and I travel all the way up to the sky lounge on the 36th floor, Mark decides against this as he’s scared of heights and only just managing the 25th!! The views from up here are fantastic as the whole city is lit up at night. There is a games room and we have a game of pool, Marcus winning. I feel Brisbane is going to be a really great place to stay.