We've started to feel like we're getting the hang of this driving on the left thing. Once again, we took to the open road to see a little more of the country outside Brisbane.
On our very first day we had some time to kill before we could check into our lodgings, so we took an hour's detour and headed for the Gold Coast to explore some of Australia's best beaches. After a short walk along the beach and some delicious but much-too-filling burgers, we lugged ourselves up the seaside cliffs at Burleigh Heads to get a better look at the sleek buildings and stunning sands below.
The next morning we headed north of Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast for a chance to meet up with some of Nick's relatives, Rob & Wendy and Victor & Barbara. It's not every day you make it out to Australia, much less within driving distance, so we were really excited about the chance to spend some time with them. We loved hearing stories from Rob & Wendy's intrepid voyage sailing around the world for nine years, and were treated to original compositions and great conversation with Victor & Barbara.
And once we'd arrived and gotten a tour of Rob's place, we found an even deeper and more surprising connection in his daughter Annalise (Nick's 2nd cousin, once or twice removed). Once Rob showed us a picture of her in his office, we realized she was a friend of our close friends from back home that we'd hung out with a number of times over the past 5-6 years! It was amazing for us to find out about having a relative our age, but it was a fun and serendipitous twist for her to be someone we already know and like a lot.
While we were up north, we also decided to pay a visit to the Australia Zoo. It's a really special place, not just because it's the passion project of the late Steve Irwin (The Crocodile Hunter) and his family, but also because all the enclosures are developed with great care to make them as close to the animals' natural habitat as possible.
Of course, we saw a show at the Crocoseum, which featured a kaleidoscope of different birds and a massive saltwater croc. The keepers definitely follow in Steve's footsteps, letting you see what the crocs can do in what seemed like some considerably risky moves. Danger, danger, danger!
And we also ventured out into the wide open paddock for a chance to get up close with a mob of kangaroos (and the occasional wallaby). We picked up a baggie of kangaroo chow, but these guys looked like they were even more interested in getting some rays, a snooze, and a scratch.
Ticking off the bucket list
Call us crazy, but we think Koalas are just the best.
In some ways, they don't make any sense at all to us humans. They eat eucalyptus leaves, which are extremely nutrient poor and mildly toxic, which leaves them very little energy to get through their day. Because of this, they sleep for 18-22 hours per day, wedged into a cozy spot in their favorite tree.
But when they struggle to wake up and take on their little day, we can totally relate to this face.
We've always, always wanted to meet one in real life, or at least get super close, so we paid a visit to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary back in Brisbane. Turns out, you can get behind the scenes here to watch some feeding, get a one-on-one tour with a zookeeper and about 8 koalas in their enclosure, and cuddle one in your arms. Ladies and gentlemen, get ready to meet the happiest animal lovers ever...
as well as the very sweet and tolerant baby koala, Hamlet.
Check! Another life goal accomplished.
We loved learning about koalas and getting up close with these adorable, lazy little marsupials. When they come as cute as this, there's nothing like a little bit of knowledge and cuddling.
Finding Nemo off the coast of Cairns!