Friday, January 22, 2010

Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast

Earlier this month I traveled from Port Macquarie to the Queensland capital of Brisbane (right) and the nearby Sunshine Coast, north of the city (above).

After celebrating the New Year at Telegraph Point Tavern – where my brother’s band provided the entertainment – I boarded a Greyhound bus at Port Macquarie in the early hours of January 1. The advantage of traveling at this time was that the bus was practically empty. Indeed, for a good part of the trip there was only myself, the driver, and one other passenger!

Our breakfast stop was at the New South Wales coastal town of Ballina, just south of the Queensland border. Ballina is famous for the Big Prawn (above), which is actually slated for demolition as the whole area is to be redeveloped. Some are upset by this, claiming that an “Aussie icon” will be lost.

Australia actually has a number of “big” things that serve as tourist attractions. For instance, there’s the Big Banana, the Big Pineapple, and the Big Merino! Go figure.

In Queensland I first stayed with my friend Raph on the campus of the University of the Sunshine Coast (left and below) at Sippy Downs.

Raph (pictured with me at right) is one of Mike and Bernadette McGowan’s seven children. I first got to know the McGowan family in Goulburn, N.S.W., where Mike was the principal of the primary school I taught at from 1988-1993. Before relocating to the U.S. in 1994, I taught two of the McGowan children – Jeremiah (in 1989) and Tess (in 1992). I’ve stayed friends with all the members of the family ever since our shared time in Goulburn, and always try to catch up with as many of them as I can on each visit back to Australia from the U.S. (See, for instance, the previous Wild Reed posts: Travelin’ South, Return to Wagga, Travelin’ North, Newtown, and Return to Ellenborough Falls.)

In 2004, Raph came and stayed with me in the Twin Cities for four months. It was a great time. We visited the North Shore; took a train trip to Washington, D.C; and flew out to San Francisco.

Above: Raph – January 2, 2010.

All of Raph’s family members – with the exception of Tess – were visiting him and his sister Mim at Sippy Downs when I was there. Raph’s siblings are Jeremiah, Tess, Iggy, Mim, Dominica, and Collette.

Above: Mike and Bernie with Jeremiah and his fiancee Kristy.

Left: Iggy, a champion kick boxer. And he looks it!

Above: Bernie with her daughter Mim.

Above: Dom and Kristy.

Right: Collette.

Above: Catching up with Dom and Collette – January 1, 2010.

Above: Bernie, Iggy, and Collette.

Above: Raph, Bernie, and Jeremiah – January 2, 2010.

Above: Watching the boys catch some waves.

Above: On my last night on the Sunshine Coast, Mike and Bernie and I were Raph’s guests at the restaurant he works at. His preparation of our meals was faultless!

After three days with the McGowans on the Sunshine Coast, I returned to Brisbane (above and left) to visit my college friend Mark, his wife Lana, and their son Matthew.

I studied with Mark in
1987 in Canberra. I last saw him and his family in 2006. (See the previous Wild Reed post, Travelin’ North.)

Above: Lana, Matthew, and Mark – January 5, 2010.

Right: Matthew demonstrating his soccer skills!

Above: Mark and Matthew playing the board game Articulate.

Above: At left with my friend Mark and his son Matthew – January 5, 2010.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Remnants of a Past Life (Part I)
Remnants of a Past Life (Part II)
Goulburn Revisited
Goulburn Reunion
Goulburn Landmarks
Travelin’ South (Part II)
Return to Wagga

1 comment:

Mareczku said...

Great pictures, Michael, thanks for sharing. Looks like you are enjoying the summer.