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The middle bit – Tamborine, Tamworth and Sydney

February 10, 2016

One of the things I love best about Australia is it’s vastness and the views – and the incredible wildlife. Driving back to Tamborine from Noosa we decide to take a small diversion through the Glasshouse Mountains, to the Melena Botanical Gardens and Aviary. It was far too hot to walk around the gardens by the time we arrived around 2pm, but we were in time for a tour of the aviary – which turns out to be one of my holiday highlights. Our guide introduced us to some of the tamer birds, a black cockatoo, a Corella (a bit like a cockatoo, smaller and without the yellow crest) and various bold and cheeky Macaws. Bribe them with a bit of seed and they’ll come and sit on your shoulder or head for a while, or if you forget to take off your necklace the Corella may come in a snuggle with his beady eye on it’s ulterior motive! The aviary has a separate area for rescued birds – many people take on an African grey parrot or a Macaw, not realising that they can easily out live humans by many years, and can be a very demanding pet to keep domestically. Hopefully the birds can be rehabilitated to eventually join the rest of the aviary, but they seem very calm and well cared for here. The views of the Glasshouse Mountains from here are incredible, almost prehistoric in nature, it’s a beautiful part of the country.
Our friends suggest a ride down to Southport on the Gold Coast to have a look at the famous Versace Hotel – we drive past it but instead of going in, we park next door and have a fantastic seafood meal overlooking the marina, full of boats we can only dream about (how the other half live) – the Moreton Bay Bugs may be an ugly critter but they taste absolutely divine!
Australia Day, 26th January – the tradition is to spend it with friends and family having a barbeque – and often it rains, just like any Bank Holiday back in the UK! The difference up in Tamborine is that the temperature is in the high twenties, so it’s a pleasure to be outside and not huddled under an umbrella or watching chef man the BBQ from a doorway while he (it’s generally a bloke job somehow) sizzles and gets soaked at the same time. Our host does a fantastic job, cooking for a family of eleven, plus the two of us. I’ve known Elaine since we were both seventeen, more years ago than we care to remember – as a consequence I know her family too, and she is lucky enough to have them all emigrate to Australia to join her at some point, they now live no more than 40 minutes away from each other.
After everyone has left and we’ve settled down to sleep, a commotion emerges outside – it’s coming from the garage. It transpires that a baby possum has been trapped in the garage for a couple of days, and Elaine & Glyn are trying to persuade him to leave! He eventually runs out, and blinded by the security lights runs straight into the shed wall, then dashes off into the forest. The next day, we say goodbye, a bit sad but happy in the knowledge we will be back, hopefully for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018.
It’s a long drive to our next destination – Sydney – so we decide to take the inland route for a change, and stopover in Tamworth, which is home to the Golden Guitar Motor Inn and the capital of Australian Country Music. Not a genre we are fond of, but we thought it would be fun to find out more. It transpires that the annual festival of country music finished last week – so the town is now a bit knackered and most places are shut! Our hotel room was a reasonable price but the manager tells me it would have been $500AUD a night during festival – as they say over here – crikey!!!

Tamworth behind us, we arrive to a bit of luxury in Sydney, our hotel is close to the Rocks and the harbour bridge – we cannot fault the hotel, the service and quality is amazing, and very friendly too. It’s a busy time, we need to catch up with a friend’s brother and his partner and their three year old, an old work colleague and friend of Pete’s, and another friend we met through twitter who is a fellow Spurs fan. The city also put on a couple of incredible storms while we were there. Sydney made the news when lightning struck the Westfield Tower, and we were having lunch in Dymocks bookshop at the time, and we certainly felt the impact! I’ve never seen rain like it, the streets turn into small rivers and you can get soaked to the skin in seconds if you are caught in it. The second storm struck while we were having drinks with Pete’s friend in the Glenmore Hotel – the rooftop bar has amazing views of the city – the sky turned as dark as night, and the rain was like stair rods – so we had to stay for another couple until it passed…

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