Leaving the Land Down Under

This morning we fly to Bangkok. So yesterday, amidst the rush of packing and last minute surf sessions, I visited the beauty shop. Time to say goodbye to all the golden (bad brassy?) highlights from so much sun and sea.  Washing away the gray fringe I was getting far too used to seemed like a good idea as well.

Clearly I need to polish up my selfie skills, which, if I recall from my last visit to Bangkok, is a bit of a national Thai obsession.

As reported in our latest posts, Australia has been a land of downs and ups for us. The rain barely ever stopped and the entire family, save Coco, passed around a pretty nasty head cold over the course of our two week visit.

On the other hand, it is here that we visited the truly spectacular Lady Elliot Island, a 30 hectare island on the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef still relatively unaffected by rapidly warming ocean temperatures to the north.

Above, from our flight in.  And below, a few snaps to add to Brendan’s fabulous LEI post, including some underwater shots kindly sent by the guide on one of our dives.

A few from above sea level, including our cozy eco cabins.

I’m happy to report that the high points continued after we left the reef to spend our final Aussie days sampling the tasty surf point breaks of Noosa Heads.

For me, these surf sessions felt like a huge step forward in the Barbarian Days aspect of our trip.  Our last attempt to surf had been a deeply humbling experience in the consequential waves of Raglan, NZ.

SO much bigger than they look in this picture. Those black dots you can barely make out are pro surfers who are pulled into the waves by jet skis…

In New Zealand, I worked up the courage to paddle out to Manu Bay’s famous break, but proceeded to get absolutely crushed.  I didn’t come close to catching a wave. B and W did much better, but still didn’t have the best days.

Following Raglan, I wondered if our surf family aspirations were a bit fantastical. At a minimum, I figured that I was probably too old and not nearly brave or nimble enough to be part of the crew.
But our Noosa experience, and especially Brendan’s commitment to the cause, have begun to pull me away from that negative thinking. He insisted that we focus our Noosa days on the surf (not yoga or running or even shopping) and goaded us into multiple sessions a day.

He encouraged me, spooked by the monster waves in NZ and still remembering that fin hit to the head in Sri Lanka, to venture out to where Noosa’s more forgiving (but nonetheless significant) waves actually break.

He even carried my surf board when we made the trek out to iconic Tea Tree Bay.

By our last day in Noosa, Brendan and, of course William, were hanging in the line up with the locals, even catching a hoot and holler or two.

As for me, I still missed most of the waves I tried for, despite my best and strongest paddling. And many of the waves I did catch ended in a frustrating nose dive.   But I also had a few of the most beautiful, satisfying rides of my life.

And I was reminded again that the best things in life take dedication and effort and often a fair bit of pain.
That said, our last night in Noosa was pretty pain free.  A somewhat glitzy Queensland beachtown, Noosa is newly flush with Melbourne Millions, or so some surfer locals tell us.  While not a particularly enriching experience from a culture vantage, our experience in the town was comfortable and fun. In addition to my time at the salon, we managed some shopping.

Holly found a pretty dress. And Coco approved.

Phoebe also tried her first oyster.

Is it horrible to be happy that her reaction meant a higher oyster count more for me?

Now it’s off to more adventurous adventures in Thailand. Wish us luck on 9 plus hours of flying (in Row 40…). Phoebe, for one, seems primed for the trip.

2 thoughts on “Leaving the Land Down Under

  1. What a pleasure it is to follow your travels. I think you two scribes have a book here, with chapters by your 4 younger companions. We spent much of the winter picnicking at Hohokipa Beach on North Maui, so can identify with how high waves can be. Bravo to you for trying.
    You are headed into Room to Read territory in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. The children might enjoy some of the short videos on You Tube so they understand that people around the world are trying to provide literacy and gender equity (38,000 girl scholars) for families who live on US $1 or 2. Leaving Microsoft to Change the World and Creating Room to Read, both by John Wood, explain how the local language publishing/teacher training/librarybuilding/girls scholarships grew from 2000 to 2017.
    I hope the frangipani blooms for you and you have wonderful adventures in SE Asia.

    We just had a wonderful DC visit and you will hear more about it when you rendevous.


  2. I am learning so much and, more importantly, learning to appreciate the wonders of nature and the resiliency of the human spirit.

    Cousin ann McKenna

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