Queensland is beautiful.
I have only been to a few places in this giant Australian state and everything I have seen of it is very diverse but all beautiful...
For New Years we headed south to Coolum Beach on the Sunshine Coast to Visit Nik's brother - a new part of Queensland for me.

The first stop after the airport (well, after pies for lunch) was the giant pineapple.... Yup, The Giant Pineapple!

Coolum Beach
This part of the coast is very beautiful and very different from the north. The water is clear and warm (no jellyfish or crocs!) and the sand is squeaky!
Because the reef is really far off shore there are waves to surf but unfortunately no reef to dive. It was pretty windy everyday while we were there, but I did get out once to try to catch some waves! (it was a bit to messy and the waves were a bit too big so I didn't do very well... I did enjoy being out there though!)
Beach at Noosa NP
We had a really nice visit in Coolum with Uggie and Amy and the rest of their visitors! We visited Noosa National park, climbed Mt. Coolum, went to a waterfall up the range, had NYE on the beach dressed as pirates, went fishing, and ate lots of yummy food!
My favorite was Noosa NP... There was a nice little wave for surfing (I will go there next time!) and there was some fishing to be had! Nik speared a nice flathead and Uggie shot something too...

Sunshine Coast was a great place to start the new year! But I was also happy to head home to Hobart to get a start on 2013...

Another fresh new year is here . . .
Another year to live!
To banish worry, doubt, and fear,
To love and laugh and give!

This bright new year is given me
To live each day with zest . . .
To daily grow and try to be
My highest and my best!

I have the opportunity
Once more to right some wrongs,
To pray for peace, to plant a tree,
And sing more joyful songs!
- William Arthur Ward
Yeah, Boxing Day gets a mention all its own! :)
This was my second holiday season in Cairns celebrating with Nik's family. I am not sure I will ever get used to a hot Christmas Day but it sure is nice to have sunshiny weather on Boxing Day and New Years! As usual going to Cairns involved lots of family, visiting friends, eating, and checking the internet waiting for good reef weather... We had a delicious Christmas Eve brunch and Christmas Day breakfast and dinner. Then there was Boxing Day... It is no wonder Christmas is the favorite holiday for this family!

Overall there was lots of cricket watching (and some playing!), lots of eating good food, and lots of sleeping over the holiday break.. In the hot weather naps are really key. We spent a few days on the range at Nik's parent's house - very relaxing and beautiful... I always find some sort of wildlife to chase. This time it was butterflies and kookaburras.... By the way, I was voted most improved cricket player of Boxing Day. I was really bad last year... Guess all the cricket watching is paying off! Cricket is fun!

As for the weather, Nik and I were able to sneak out one day for a flick with some friends at a protected little beach called Pretty Beach. We walked along the rocky and mangrovey shore and within 5 minutes Nik had a fish! He saw it (and 2 others) before he even had his line in the water. We had to be stealthy and quiet for a chance to catch these fish but once one took the hook it was all crashing and thrashing! Nik was in the water doing some fancy maneuvering to keep the fish from breaking the line in the tangle of mangrove roots... Quite the sight for me! My first glimpse of the infamous Baramundi! Unfortunately we didn't have a camera so this drawing will have to do...


I didn't catch anything except a rock in my shin caused by a flip-flop blowout, but overall a good day! Nik as usual was the big fisher that day with the baramundi and a spectacular baby cod... :)

Huon River somewhere near Dover

The morning after Thanksgiving can be hard... but it was a gorgeous day so we rallied! We were not off to an early start by any means but we decided we must go to the southern-most point of Australia and what better day than today! (Not today today, but last Saturday today...)

  We packed up some turkey-day leftovers and jumped in the Falcon. We were headed for South Cape Bay - the southern most point of land in Australia.
The Falcon
Oysters in the Huon River (escapees from one of the many oyster farms no doubt!)

  So this Thanksgiving (and everyday) I am thankful for many things. But one thing in particular on this day is that we both love spontaneous adventures. We have already had many of these spur of the moment adventures  together and there are many more to come.
  I am also happy to know that we both love collecting/harvesting/fishing for food...
  especially seafood...
  and especially oysters...raw ones...

   So when we discovered oysters along the Huon River, there was only one thing to do.

   They were a little "fresh" because we were a long way from the ocean here but they were tasty, there were heaps of them, and they were free!
  After a brief snack, we were off again through beautiful farm land and forests. The landscape is serene and beautiful. There are giant eucalyptus groves with spiky long underbrush, lush tree-fern forests, wide river views with boats, salmon pens, and oyster farms, rolling green hills spotted with sheep, cows, kangaroos, and broken down muscle-car trucks... It is impossible to get bored looking at the passing scenery as it changes every 10 minutes. In all of these microcosms there are flowers. Bottle-brush shaped flowers (big ones, little ones, on trees, and on bushes - yellow, red, white, pink, purple...), rhododendrons - giant ones! bigger than a house!, proteas, and of course roses! (The flowers of Tasmania deserve their own post....).
Destination Cockle Creek, Southwest National Park 148 km from Hobart.
From here we set out on a 3-4 hour RT hike to South Cape Bay... I will let the photos speak for themselves...
I will tell you, it smelled of penguins and leopard seals - no, we didn't see any...but they aren't too far away!

The most adorable creature...

Are you wondering about the most adorable creature?
I saved the best for last. :) On the way to Cockle Creek we spotted this guy along the side of the road...
Short-Beaked Echidna, Tachyglossus aculeatus
Echidnas are monotremes (mammals that lay eggs). There are only three species of monotreme in the world - the platypus (next on the list) and two species of echidna, one of which is restricted to the highlands of New Guinea. Echidnas are currently ranked number 1 as the most adorable creature.