From Byron Bay – quite rainy those last couple days – it was only 2 hours or so to Brisbane. And when it’s rainy, it’s great to be in a big city. We spent lots of time at the museums, and truly enjoyed the Gallery of Modern Art. We spent an afternoon admiring the Yohi Mamomo exhibition. One of her exhibits allow to decorate a (initially) white room with colored dots. It was fantastic to watch how our kids pondered and really thought about how they would use their dots. Their creativity is boundless, and they came up with a “different” way to place their dots, creating 3D images.
The museum also had a kids room with several interactive displays. In one, we could compose music for different moods by combining pre-recorded sounds and adding in our own sound. In another, we created a crazy-looking selfie by combining 2 of our individual selfies. The museum is mostly free, apart from one paying exhibition. That one was relatively pricey, but I really wanted to go see Gerard Richter’s work. We all absolutely loved it. When going in, we were warned that there was “graphic material”, unsuitable for kids. When asked what – the guard directed us to a handful of tiny (tiny!) nude images, and a series of holocaust pictures. Frankly, I probably took my kids there first. They are allowed to see these, encouraged even, so that we can educate them and have a conversation about what they see and answer their questions. Yes, they are horrific images, but it was a horrific time; and we hope that history will not repeat it itself …
While in the Richter exhibit, every so often a small choir grouped and sang an opera fragment (a pop-up performances). It was chilling. In combination with the holocaust conversation, it really struck an emotional chord… yes, tears flowed.
Another day we spent a morning at the Queensland Museum. A great collection for the kids, with dinosaurs, mega-giant squids, spiders and more. There was also a temporary exhibition that was amazing – hands-on experiments on how the brain can trick us. Super fun.
We walked around Brisbane quite a bit, and just hung about in the large parks along the river. Matthias had wanted to bike for a long time, and so we rented out city bikes together and rode along the river. He is such a happy kid, and a joy to be around. He just loved, loved biking. Smiles from ear to ear. The kids also had wanted to go bowling, but when we got there, there were no bowling allies open that night. Instead, we had our first karaoke experience together. That was a blast!!! I think the entire place must have heard us squawk “Let It Go, Let It Go—o-o-o …”. In private, we are all born performers! The next day we got to bowl nevertheless. I lost. I mean really, I was LAST.
In Brisbane, we also found a great gym, and got a lot of schoolwork in. Perfect. Speaking of gyms, I really enjoyed the Goodlife Health Clubs throughout our time in Australia. They have lots of locations throughout Australia (or certainly on the East Coast), and you can get a short term type of membership that allows you to pop into any of them. A good deal.
I should add that I celebrated my birthday in Brisbane. Steven and the kids got me my first ever Thai massage. And it was per-fect! Highly recommend the massage parlor at the Pullman hotel – it’s called Tantara Thai Massage & Spa.
From Brisbane, we continued on north towards the Sunshine Coast. We stayed in Yaroomba. Now, if our AirBNB’s had been stellar so far, this one was incredible. Fantastic (stocked) kitchen, different outdoor spaces (one in front overlooking the ocean, another in back overlooking the forest) complete with outdoor kitchen and pool, beach toys like bodyboards and a table tennis. The entire home was gorgeously decorated. We got an incredible last minute deal here as the owners had recently renovated and wanted to get renters, and surely good reviews. Granted, there is not much to see in Yaroomba, but within a 5 minutes walk we were on a stunning beach. We found an amazing stack of travel guides on their bookshelf. Turns out the owners are hosts with a super luxurious travel company. Now those are some amazing trips! Think private jets to fly around the world, the most incredible locations, and sometimes guests pay over 6 figures per person for a trip. How’s that for a job!
We had planned to stay in Yaroomba for a week. Our first day, we stocked the fridge with tons of fruits and veggies, and we enjoyed cooking nutritious meals. The house had a large library, and so we each picked out a couple favorites and spent a lot of our time reading.
Steven and the kids explored the Australian Zoo one day (yes, that is Steve Irwin’s zoo), had their pics taken with koala’s, saw crocodiles, wombats and more. On another day we explored the Eumundi Markets – a fun outdoor market with all sorts of local craft and handiwork. We loved Noosa national park and it’s beaches. We spent a great day at Tea Tree beach, with a picnic, playing in the surf and building sand castles.
And then, it was time to pack up and start our 1800km drive to Melbourne. We drove the A15 highway – a little more inland and a little shorter distance than via the coast. But whoa! We hit a heatwave, with temperatures over 40C. To top it, Matthias got rather sick along the way, and couldn’t keep any food down for 3 days straight. Somehow we all survived those couple days, and honestly, even kept it together. Driving for such stretches of time reminded us of our road trip through the US, the start of our journey. We can hardly believe how much has happened since.
As always, including a list of place we stayed, ate and played. Including those we loved, and leaving out those we didn’t :).
Where we stayed:
– Brisbane – Ibis Brisbane.The rooms were fine, spacious and interconnecting. Other facilities we found minimal. The breakfast buffet and restaurant space are not very inviting. Parking is not free despite what’s advertised so make sure you ask. Still, we were happy with the location, very central and right next to the walking bridge taking you to the museums and waterfront parks.
– Yaroomba – Coast Haven Beach House via Airbnb. We loved everything about this house … the pool, the decks, the library, the décor.
Where we ate:
– Brisbane – 51st street. Around the corner from our hotel, so super convenient. We ate dinner here, and returned for breakfast. The kids had burgers and we had quinoa salads that were so good! Granola’s for breakfast. Yum!
– Brisbane – Coffee Iconic George Street. Funky little coffee house. If you’re not paying attention, you might walk right passed it. The salad was so good…
– Brisbane – Grill’d. You can find this burger restaurant inside of the Wintergarden, Queen Street Mall – next to the Goodlife Gym. I think Grill’d might be a chain. They have the most delicious vegan burgers I ate so far. Great option for take-out. Next door is a dumpling place (M. loves his dumplings!) that was decent but I can’t find the name somehow.
– Brisbane – breakfast buffet at Lennons. We treated ourselves to brunch here, on the occasion of my birthday. A little bit of luxury! (Lennons is the restaurant of the Next Hotel)
Where we played:
– Brisbane – Gallery of Modern Art or GOMA. Most exhibits are free; the children’s corner in the basement was stellar.
– Brisbane – Queensland Museum. Insects, dinosaurs, giant things and a fun exhibition on brain tricks. Perfect. And great salads at the café.
– Brisbane – South Bank Parklands. A long walk/bike way. Lots of park and playgrounds. A beach and large outdoor pool. Casual, fast-food options and restaurants with great outdoor terraces. Great for a beach-day-in-the-city.
– Brisbane – Tantara Thai Massage & Spa at the Pullman hotel.
– Brisbane – Goodlife Health Clubs. Every single goodlife I went to to take LesMills classes had truly fantastic instructors, and we all know it’s the instructors that make the difference between a mmwwee-class and a great-class.
– Brisbane – CityCycle bike hire. Super easy to use app, and a great way to get around in the city. Being a little smart with switching bikes makes that you can ride the city for free.
– Brisbane – Strikebowling – Bowling and karaoke inside of Wintergarden, Queen Street Mall.
– Noosa – Noosa National Park and Noosa. There are so many amazing hiking trails here. We hiked to the Tea Tree Beach (a short stroll really) and spent a couple hours swimming and building sand castles. The water was calm enough for swimming, but had nice enough waves for the kids to enjoy body boarding. Noosa town is upscale and fun. Although we didn’t stay here, we would have liked to!
– Eumundi – Eumundi market – A super fun artisan market, with local produce, soaps, silverware, wood working, clothing, music and more. super enjoyable. And if you are looking for souvenirs, you are sure to find them here!