March of the Noëls

Our dear friends Aubain and Ingrid flew half way across the world – with their girls who are both under five – just to see us! OK, they came to see Julian and Shelley and baby Alby too, and I guess they were also doing it just to have a bit of a holiday, but let’s be honest; we were clearly the main draw card!

It was a wonderful whirlwind two weeks, one of those holidays where afterwards you can barely believe that it’s only been two weeks given how much we packed in. Here’s a few of the highlights.

Beechmont Escape

After allowing for a few days to recover from jet-lag, we hired a big house up in the hills of the Gold Coast hinterland via AirBnB. The house had a huge backyard, complete with a massive fig tree which provided the perfect ambiance for meals on the back deck.

The tree in the backyard of our Beechmont House

The tree in the backyard of our Beechmont House

To keep the older kids active, we invented a game (inspired by Aunty Chellsie) which we uncreatively called called “Obstacle Courses”. The basic premise was: come up with a short course of things to do (e.g. “run around that tree twice, run up that hill, then down backwards, then do five star-jumps, then race back to the finish line). The kids loved it! And nothing is better at bed time than super sleepy kids!

We spent the rest of our time exploring the area, conquering a few of the walks around Lamington National park and on Tambourine mountain. We especially loved The Caves circuit at Lamington, though we followed a recommendation I had read somewhere-or-other and turned back after the half-way point (rather than continuing on to the end and facing the walk back along the road).

We even stopped in to Cousin Bill’s brewery – Fortitude – for some delicious pizzas and beers on our way back to Brisbane!

Indoor sky diving

Kristy had an insider tip about iFly – an indoor skydiving centre that had opened up in Surfer’s Paradise. Colour me keen! In fact, everyone was keen to give it a try, and given that they allow kids three and over to have a flight, even Oscar and Elise signed up for a “jump”! The lucky kids even got superhero suits to jump in!



The package that we bought gave us all two jumps each, and it was interesting to see how much your “skills” improved just from the first jump to the second. Aubain, Julian and I also signed up for a “high flight”, where an instructor came into the wind tunnel at the conclusion of the second jump and flew up right up to the top and back down again, like a yo-yo. Unfortunately, my goggles came loose on our way up to the top, which slapped up my face pretty bad and made it near impossible to see anything. But otherwise it was ace – I’d definitely sign up to do it again!

Aubain at iFly

Aubain at iFly

The Beach

If you’re going to be showcasing “the best of Brisbane”, it’s hard not to go past the beach. Mom and Dad were kind enough to loan us their place at Caloundra, which was big enough to house us all and put us within walking distance of both Kings and Bulcock beaches. And, since Kristy and I have made both of those journeys numerous times, we’ve got all of the best coffee places along the way worked out (Lamkin Lane Espresso Bar on the way to Bulcock beach, or Coffee Cat when you get to Kings).

Both beaches were in prime condition each time we visited, and we whiled away many hours digging holes in the sand or swimming in the shallows.

Playing at Bulcock Beach

Playing at Bulcock Beach

Elise and Oscar playing in the shallows at Bulcock Beach

Elise and Oscar playing in the shallows at Bulcock Beach

Shelley borrowed a couple of body boards from her parents (who conveniently live just around the corner!) and we took them down to Kings beach for a run. Oscar and I took one of them out a number of times, and we had quite a few good rides together! He handled himself brilliantly in the surf – even after a nasty nose dive, he put on a brave face and then went back out to try again!

Bellingham Maze

Who doesn’t love a good hedge maze? More accurately; who knew there was a good hedge maze only 20 minutes drive from Caloundra? Certainly not I! And, Kristy even managed to find a Groupon deal which gave us entry for about half price! It was a maze with a puzzle, centered around Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Although we did (eventually) manage to find all of the dwarfs in the maze, I don’t think any of us had the tenacity (or more accurately – the lack of nagging children) to actually solve the puzzle. I guess that gives us something to do for the next time that we visit!

Leo powering through the hedge maze

Leo powering through the hedge maze

A word of warning: if you’re going through the week – double check that they’re open before you turn up! As it turned out, we arrived about 20 minutes before they opened their gates, though even that was a pretty lucky outcome given that some days they don’t open at all!

Noosa BBQ Boat

One of our finest memories of the UK was the day we hired a boat with Aubain and Ingrid and took a leisurely cruise along the Thames. The closest we could find of replicating that experience here in Australia was to hire a BBQ boat for a cruise along the Noosa river. The boat even came with fishing gear, so we all took turns at throwing a line out to try and catch some dinner.

Julian's Fish

Julian’s Fish

Thank goodness Julian has immaculately groomed fingernails!

Some of us were more successful than others; the best I managed to catch was a rather nasty looking toadfish. Kristy, Julian and Shelley all managed to haul in a few bites, but we threw them all back to sea. After all, I dare-say none of us really knew how best to “prepare” a live fish for cooking!

Lesson for next time: make sure you test the BBQ before you set off from shore. Ours had a problem with the regulator, which only became evident after “a waterfall of flames” (as Julian described it) erupted from the bottom of the grill. Turning the gas off was no easy feat (the canister was behind the flames)!

Farewell to Brisbane

We’d have been fools not to take advantage of the Lewis’ superior view over Brisbane and The Story Bridge at least once, so – fittingly – we headed up to their rooftop deck on the Noël’s last night here. Julian and Shelley cooked up a feast of kebabs while the rest of us choked back our “The holiday is over!” tears and took photos of the sun going down over Brisbane.

Brisbane city after sunset

Brisbane city after sunset

Shelley even had an old tripod lying around from her ex-career as a Hollywood film director, so I hooked it up to my SLR and managed to take this rather awkward shot of us all!

Sunset on Julian and Shelley's rooftop terrace

Sunset on Julian and Shelley’s rooftop terrace

What a way to remember the holiday!

There’s really only two tactics for dropping off such wonderful friends at the airport, especially when you’re unsure of when you’ll see them again. First, there’s the slow and painful way – park the car, walk them inside, linger around while they check in, all the while getting progressively sadder and sadder, until you finally say “farewell” and have been reduced to little more than a sobbing puddle of tears.

We instead opted for the “ripping off the band-aid” method – dropping them on the curb outside check-in, stealing a few very emotional hugs and kisses, then speeding off without looking back as if we were nothing more than Uber drivers.

There’s obviously so many things I haven’t detailed – the board games, the card games, the fun car (championed by Aubain and I, naturally), the quiet game (also part of the fun car), the laughter, the tears… we had it all. I can’t express my thanks to Aubain and Ingrid enough for braving the long (long!) flight from the UK with their two little kidlets. We’ve already started planning our next vacation adventure with them all… now all we need is time, and money!

Posted in life in australia
One comment on “March of the Noëls
  1. Ben says:

    What a wonderful two week adventure.

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