Meeting the Police in Beautiful Bargara

We farewelled Bargara with a small hiccup and a run in with the Police.

But in the nicest possible way.

Another sunny day and I didn’t want to miss out on a swim. The little lagoon was chilly at 7.30! But in we went and loved it. So good on my still swollen knee.

After breakfast and pack up we headed to The Journey coffee shop. I was all a fluster. I couldn’t find my credit card. I keep it in a pocket on the back of my phone and it was missing. I searched in the car and my purse and from the coffee shop rang last nights restaurant & then Carmel asking her to search the unit. No luck.

So off went went deciding not to panic.

We drive in convoy to Tinaberries.

A lovely strawberry farm.

As we arrived Steve received a phone call from Rob at Bargara Police Station. My card had been found in the street just near The Journey coffee shop. I must have had it in my lap and dropped it. We would have to go back in Bargara to collect it. After our ice cream.

The strawberry farm encourages picking your own. We didn’t.

But we did buy their delicious ice cream and sat in the gorgeous garden. And had a brain wave. I rang Policeman Rob at the station and said could they cut up the card to save us returning and I’d just get a new one. He said he couldn’t do that as he’d done the paper work!

So he’d send a police car out to deliver it. He knew where we were ! I didn’t want to inconvenience them so said we would return but he insisted he send a car out.

15 mins later, Poiceman Rick arrived with the lost card. I signed and presented him with a box of strawberries as a thank you. He was delighted. I hope it’s not seen as a bribe.

What service.

Drama over. Lucky me.

We got to stay with the group and head off for Gin Gin & onto Goomeri for lunch.

The Bakery in Goomeri is famous. A local lady decided to go to Paris to learn all about baking. She learned how to do it so well when she returned to Australia she opened a bakery in her home town. It’s a huge success.

The pies , sausage rolls, pastries , cakes etc etc are world class. I had a delicious savoury pastry with tomato , basil and cheese.

Decision time in the Goomeri Bakery.

From Goomeri we made our way past the Everything shop in Wondai to Kingaroy. This shop is amazing. So much junk!

We’re staying at Room Motel. New, stylish , comfortable and all prefab. Great idea.

Now for champagne and a little mahjong game with the girls before dinner.

Beautiful Bargara

Our unit overlooks the water and it’s sparkling this morning. The early birds, Kath and Pam were up with the sun and captured a beautiful sunrise as they walked the headland making me a little jealous.

They also had a swim in the lagoon just around the headland near us. They thought it was a little cold but when they spoke to an 85 year old lady who swam there everyday of the year they didn’t complain!

Within any travel group there are a variety of ‘paces’. Some are up early walking and finding the best coffee places using an app called Bean! Others meandering later after a short walk and then there’s the injured who don’t get up and sieze the early start. Steve and I fall into this category at the moment. With my new knee I’m not walking too far , Steve has an ankle injury, so we both get up and do our exercises!

Tomorrow I’m swimming!

After breakfast on the verandah we all met at the best coffee place. The Journey. These places are always down lanes – not the big corner spot with chairs and views.

They are run by friendly but somewhat trendy young tattooed people who sometimes curl their lips disapprovingly if you ask for coffee extra hot! Something about burning the beans.

Fortunately these young people didn’t curl lips except to smile.

Great coffee.

Every t spoon carried a message. Mine: Conquer from within.

Following coffee our group of 14 split. Some to Mon Repos turtle centre, some to wander the main streets of Bundaberg and most of the men went to explore the Hinkler Museum.

I went to the turtle centre with Jill. It’s housed in a beautiful timber building behind the beach at Mon Repos. It’s well set up and has a good selection of interactive activities to discover things about turtles.

Great for children. There is a theatre for the short film and then a ranger gives more information about turtles, their nesting & hatching and answers questions.

Photos courtesy of Jill Wilson

You can walk out onto the beach, where during the nesting and hatching seasons you can visit at night to watch closely in the dark as these ancient looking animals start laying eggs.

Only thing missing was being able to see turtles! I realise they don’t keep them in captivity but it made the experience a bit underwhelming.

Next stop was the Patchwork House. No, I haven’t taken up quilting but several of the girls are very keen. It was a big house with so many beautiful fabrics. It was was almost enough to make me take up this craft. But I resisted!

After so many patchwork decisions it was time to eat lunch. ‘Indulge’, a little cafe / restaurant in Bundaberg had come recommended, so the girls headed there and got tables under the trees in the middle section of the road. It was cool and due to covid seating restrictions not crowded.

The boys collect for lunch

The lunch was delicious and served by the most gorgeous Belgium girl who came to Australia on a working holiday and married the owner of the restaurant.

Next stop, with lots of excitement was the Bundaberg Rum Distillery. What a slick operation it is. We’ll set out with an informative museum , film and tour of the distillery.

About 50% of rum drunk in Australia is consumed in Qld. We love our dark & stormy ( rum with ginger beer )

Mark, Helen, Pam & Susie

Our tour with Adam included two tastings. They loosened us up. And prepared us for the next stop.

The KALKI Moon Gin Distillery where it turns out the owner of the distillery worked at the rum distillery for many years – so as well as making gin he makes rum – but it takes much longer so meanwhile the gin business is growing.

◦ We learned the secrets of gin making and then got into tastings. Very delicious gins. I like mine with soda and lime. I bought Steve their signature Old Navy Gin at 57% alcohol. That will knock his Fathers Day socks off!

Assorted gins in the Kalkimoon range.

The couple who run the gin distillery were so helpful. They had been closed for tours due to covid but were able accomodate our group of 14 after hours.

We were nicely warmed up for dinner at Kelly’s restaurant back in Bargara. A lovely meal, a glass of wine & great company finished off a fun day on tour.

A Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Day…………….. Maryborough to Bundaberg.

It’s easy to forget how attractive our smaller Queensland cities are and how much history is attached to them.

Waking up in Maryborough I was sorry I’m not ready for big walks ( new knee will only carry me so far) so Steve and I drove through the streets of Maryborough.

Maryborough, population 27,000+ sits on the Mary River on the Fraser Coast. It has some very attractive buildings and a lovely Queens Park and Portside on the river.

I particularly enjoyed the many beautiful timber houses built with the plentiful timber from the area.

One if Maryborough’s most famous people is Helen Lyndon Goff born in 1892. She went in to write Mary Poppins as PJ Travers. There is the Storytime bank where you can visit the Mary Poppins Museum.

We left by 9 am our group well organised and enthusiastic. First stop Burrum Heads which is the sleepiest, prettiest little coastal town. Full of little timber houses dotted along the long sandy beach it would be perfect for a family holiday wanting a simple beach holiday.

Back in the cars we headed for Childers with a stop along the way for an ice cream.

Made locally these ice creams on a stick were perfect for a refreshment under the trees.

Then we arrived in Childers a bustling little town made famous in recent years for the fire lit deliberately in the backpackers hostel. It claimed many young lives and the museum in the hostel tells of the sad day it happened.

We enjoyed a coffee in the old Post Office grounds.

There are some great little shops, all covid safe along the Main Street with some funny names!

On to Woodgate and lunch at the Bowls Club. Another lovely beach side holiday destination.

We arrived in Bargara on the coast outside Bundaberg for a two night stay. It’s on the water and is just lovely.

We had a self catered bbq at our units and shared many stories over a few glasses of red!

Holidays at Home

Exciting times. We’re going away.

We are going on our first little holiday in a long long time.

Travel for everyone has been postponed this year. Our Qld borders are closed so we can’t go out of the state without quarantining for 14 days on return. So it’s Queensland – a beautiful big state, we have to explore.

Finally we are heading off. A road trip with our Sri Lanka travelling friends. We’re missing Anne & John Dunphy who live in Melbourne and they are still in lockdown. They can’t go anywhere. They can follow along from the comfort of their lounge looking out over their beautiful country garden.

The group in Sri Lanka last November.

This holiday has been in the planning stage for awhile but today we are hitting the road. 14 people in total, in 6 cars. We are the only ones travelling in an open top car. Our British Racing Green 1970 MGB will have everyone queuing up for a turn to drive or be a passenger!

Planning was started by the Graces who concentrated on stops for good food and drink places, Jill and Helen found accomodation, map man Steve helped plan the route and I booked a few activities. Namely the Bundaberg Rum distillery and Kalkimoon Gin distillery along with finding a few open gardens.

We’re heading north towards Maryborough with our first stop for coffee at Kenilworth.

Kenilworth is NW of Nambour about an hour and a half from Brisbane in the heart of the Mary River Valley. it boasts dairy farms , olive groves and vineyards. It’s also home to the cheese factory, yoghurt and Ice cream factories!

On a Sunday it’s full of people out for a drive. The bakery is famous not only for its baked goods. It for its wall art.

We got talking to the owner who pointed out all the famous faces in

We have christened the trip the ‘Empty Eski Trip’. We are taking along eskis hoping to find products we can spend up on and bring home. Three things we know we’ll find are Kenilworth cheese, Bundaberg Rum and Kalkimoon Gin!

Kathy takes over the driving from Steve.

The line up at the bakery was out the door so we moved on down the hill to the cheese factory and enjoyed coffee in the garden as Steve gave out the road maps and lollies for the tour!

The cheeses here are great so we made a few purchases for our evening drinks before heading off in convoy north towards the Theebine pub where we will stop for lunch.

It was a great pub but oh so slow.

There was a small stage and a local woman and man took turns entertaining us with country & western hits or well known songs from the past. This was a distraction whilst we waited , and waited for our lunch.

We waited around 1.5 hrs! So our food tasted magnificent when it finally came. Apparently they are getting a new kitchen soon with a big grill so they can cater for the number of people who crowd in each weekend. Too bad for us the kitchen hasn’t arrived just yet.

The music was fun and the juke box was a classic. A choice of songs. …..

All about beer!

We had time to explore the old pub and loved the letter from a mother to her son.

Back in our cars we drove north stopping at another pub at Tiaro. Another classic.

A great beer garden, herb garden , children’s playground. The food looked good. We should return for the Sunday roast.

We arrived into our motel in Maryborough and took over lots of the rooms. Some of us rested and some went walking to explore.

We have dinner booked at the pub next door. Not that we need too much after a late late lunch!

Last day : Lodi to San Francisco

Poppy has a sleep over last night so Jordan took her for a walk to get our coffee ! Great start to the last day.

Lisa went to work a little bit later to make the most of Poppy time and to farewell me.

Right on 10am John , Jordan and I set off for San Francisco. It’s a beautiful warm, blue day and they are taking me all the way to San Francisco. About 1.5 hrs with some great signs along the way.

It was an interesting drive past vineyards and into the delta area where we sang the song ‘ drove my chevi to the levy but the levy was dry ‘

There are a number of levy here which cater for the farms in the area. Many crops are grown here.

I could sing my way around America!

‘Are you going to San Francisco….’

‘Do you know the way to San Jose….’

Visiting any area of America produces the opportunity to sing about it!

We arrived via the rather beautiful Bay Bridge. It was replaced after an earthquake brought down part of the old bridge.

It has a great approach and is a rather lovely structure.

We arrived into SF and drove along the Embarcadero………

past all the rejuvenated piers until we reached pier 39.

We parked the car and walked out on pier to Scomos. It’s an old restaurant – like bring on a ship. I had a great shrimp salad. And a glass of Rose!

Last time I’ll see Jordan before baby M arrives!

The day was perfect so we walked along the water. I admired the people swimming! It would be just a little chilly!

Then John took me on a tour. Of course the famous zig zag Lombard St featured.

The views down Lombard St.

We arrived at Grove St at a rather small hotel, one block from the painted ladies of Alamo Park. John and Jordan helped me in and then it was goodbye. Next time I see my daughter in law will be with a baby in her arms.

As the weather was so lovely I headed straight out. Up the hill to Alamo Park and the infamous Painted Ladies. SF style houses painted different colours.

My hotel is just down the street to the left.

I then walked …… and walked……. past some great houses.

Past public buildings

City Hall
Love the circular rooms
Mosaics
Opera & Ballet Theatre
Great street art.

Until I had passed numerous homeless people to reach Union Square where I had stayed years ago.

By now I was quite exhausted so had a cup of tea! Watched the passing parade and caught an Uber back to the Grove Inn.

I refreshed in my little room and went to the Alamo Square Seafood Grill. What a find. It was a little FRENCH ! place and I had the best fish fish! Grilled blackened snapper with delicious veg. And a glass of Chardonnay.

In & Out in Lodi.

I’ve been told by many people to experience the taste sensations of the local burger place. Or is that palace?

Recently, Qantas, our Australian airline, wrote that when in LA one shouldn’t miss out on visiting an In & Out Burger.
Started in 1948 it is basically the same today. Read about it here :

https://www.in-n-out.com/mobile/history.aspx


I was told it was better than McDonalds!So today John , his mother Ann and I visited an In & Out. Jordan was working from home so passed. Perhaps avoiding a burger !

My first impressions. Bright, clean, with the feel of an American diner – what I think is a diner!

I went for the basic cheeseburger. And we shared the ‘animal fries’ what are these! No not fries in the shape of an animal. They are fries topped – or loaded with cheese and a chopped onion.

We helped ourselves to the drinks while waiting for our number to be called.

I checked out the kitchen where the staff, all looking very neat and tidy we busy freshly chopping potatoes for the fries and serving at the take away windows.

John collecting our order

We settled into booth. And checked out the food. Neatly wrapped burgers.

Well presented cheeseburger!

It wasn’t too big so I really enjoyed it.

We cruised around the big streets of Lodi past other drive in shopping areas and made another stop at My Yoghurt. Yum!

The owners are neighbours of John & Lisa. In fact they seem to know someone every time we go out. Lodi isn’t that big.

I stopped in at Ann’s place to look at her garden. She a keen potter- taking cuttings and successfully nurturing them ! She’s a loving grandma to Jordan as was reflected in the present from her grandchildren on her 80 birthday. Take a read of this ….

We picked up Poppy, John & Lisa’s 2 year old granddaughter, and went for a walk to the beach. I really love this community private park and river beach.

Poppy is gorgeous and much loved by all the Donati family. My grandson will be born into a loving family, so I couldn’t be happier.

Lisa cooked a lovely family meal for my last night. Thank you John & Lisa for making me part of your family.

Baby Shower Fun

An early start for a fun set up.

Beautiful food

flowers ✔️ glasses ✔️napkins ✔️ plates✔️champagne chilled ✔️bibs, singlets, fabric pens✔️ balloons ✔️bundini✔️ quiche✔️

The girls arrived. The champagne popped and the chatter began.

Traditions in countries differ in the way people celebrate the mother to be.

Perhaps readers have some traditions they have ….. please share in the comments at the end of this post.

All the girls arrived. Neighbours popped by and beautifully wrapped presents gifted to Jordan for her baby.

Guests were invited to design a bib, singlet or little baby suit. The ideas were terrific.

Even little guests had a design in mind.
Mine said Surfer Dad, Surfer Boy.

The food was delicious and the few baby games we played were lots of fun.

A great gift from Claire in Australia
Absolutely glowing.
Surrounded by love and presents.
My beautiful daughter in law

Travel: has its ups and downs

Receiving the invitation to Jordan’s baby shower at the end of January started me thinking!

Why not surprise Jordan by arriving for her baby shower?

Rob and Jordan live in New York but the baby shower was to be in Lodi, north California.

I checked…… I could get a points flight. Done – booked.

Flight day arrived ( Lisa and John were in on the secret and ready to meet me in San Francisco)

Arriving at the airport nice and early I tried to check in. No!

Qantas had no record of my ESTA. ( Despite having seen it was valid until March)

So no check in!

I had to apply for a new ESTA and rebook on a flight the next day. Only problem. It was out of Sydney.

Long story short. I flew to Sydney and onto a 6pm flight. Luckily I still was able to get a whole row of seats to myself ( thank you Pat)

Jordan’s dad picked me up at and we drove to Lodi. It’s a small place about two hours east of San Fran. In a wine region.

Passing through Stockton we collected crabs for dinner and headed home to surprise Jordan.

The reaction was amazing. I walked into the house. Jordan was on the phone with Rob( who was back in NY) and screamed and started sobbing! I think it was a joyful sob!

Rob was just as surprised – but with out the sobbing. Then asked why I hadn’t told him, as he would have come across from NY!

We had a big, happy, family night with crab, salad and lovely local wine. From Ann ( Jordan’s grandma down to Poppy aged 2 ) it was a fun night. My jet lag was non existent. When surrounded by happiness it’s hard to be jet lagged.

But finally into bed

On Safari in Yala

A 5.30 start for our safari. We gathered for tea in the dark and then down to the lagoon where our safari trucks were waiting.

All aboard the trucks and off we went

The early morning light was beautiful. Serene and soft.

Down the main drive of Cinnamon Wild and along the dusty red road to the National Parks ticket office : that’s when we noticed the number of other safari trucks!

A herd of trucks? A flock of trucks? More a convoy.

First thing we spied was the peacock. Gorgeous turquoise fan tail. We loved it. But I must say, by the end of the day it was ……. get out of the way bird we have bigger things to see! Poor thing.

We were searching for the elusive leopard. Would we see it?

We saw deer, warthogs, buffalo, birds, and the amazing elephant. But no leopard.

We even saw several crocodiles. But no leopard.

We stopped at the beach which was where the tsunami hit. There is a memorial there outlining what happened. It’s hard to believe the devastation it caused. 47 lives were lost just near where we were. Strangely, no animals died. They sensed it and had moved away.

It’s sad to see where it happened. We stood on the beach and remembered.

Then it was back into the truck and off again. The search was reaching a climax. We only had an hour of our safari left.

Unfortunately we returned happy with our adventure but felt we needed more – so 6 of us decided to go on the afternoon safari. Yesterday they saw the leopard in the afternoon. Would we?

We were dusty and tired but after a swim were ready for the Christmas cake adventure. The chefs were around the pool using 30kg of fruit to make an elephant shape. Why ?

It’s something they do every year with guests. They make the shape of an elephant out of fruit and nuts. Add the alcohol then get the guests to don plastic gloves and mix it. They put it away for 1 month then bake several large cakes for Christmas.

It was so much fun!

I had an hour to rest and prepare for safari number 2!

At 2.30 the keen leopard hunters: Carmel, Peter, Marcelle, Jill, Steve and myself headed out again!

Our driver took to the challenge with a keenness we admired. He was determined. So for 4 hours we searched.

We lurked in dusty roads. We hid behind trees! We waited.

Then we saw not a leopard but a charging male elephant.

There was a truck a hundred metres ahead of us. They must have had food on board. The elephant came out of the bush and bumped up against the truck he poked his trunk and tusk into the truck!

We backed up. The man in the checked shirt nearly burst out of the back of the truck.

He had another go. The truck rocked. Would it tip over? Fortunately not.

He headed back into the bush.

Such excitement!

We continued our search when our driver got a call. There was one nearby. We raced there. There were other trucks ahead of us. The leopard was in a tree. We waited for our turn to draw level, when he left the tree and disappeared into the bush. Such disappointment.

We searched for another hour but no luck! We did see a mother elephant and her baby.

And a jackal.

We headed back to our resort.

In time to shower off the dust and dress for dinner.

The girls certainly polish up well!

We shared our story of the search for the leopard over drink – which we had to have in a cabin, as the resort wasn’t serving alcohol due to it being poya – full moon.

We found the rules for elephants at the resort.

Read it!

The last two lines are hysterical.

The Long & Winding Road to Yala

I woke to mist and low clouds. This place is amazing.

By the time we had a leisurely breakfast the sun was out , the cloud had lifted and it was beautiful.

Onto the bus for a long trip towards the south coast.

We’re headed for Yala National Park one of the largest parks in Sri Lanka. It is home to the leopard.

The main road down had suffered some landslides in the rain so we had to take a more minor road.

Our driver is a legend! He drove under hard conditions with buses and trucks, cars and tuks all forced to fight for right of way. Lots of backing up to let someone pass.

The advantage of the back road was that the scenery and local life was right up close. We passed done rubber plantations and amazing bee hives high up in trees.

We also passed some amazing waterfalls. After the heavy rain last night they were falling at full pelt.

The second one was higher and more spectacular and even a local monkey looked impressed.

Continuing on the driver looked for a suitable place to stop for our Remembrance Day service. This day at 11am on the 11th Nov Australians stop to remember those who have fought and lost their lives in conflict.

We found the perfect spot. A grove of yellow cassias trees. All green and gold , the Australian colours. Steve led the Remembrance with the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’. Very poignant.

The road continued and Jill started her Name that Tune game. She had lots of songs on her phone. But just the first few bars. They were all 70’s songs and we had to name them. We took awhile to warm up but were soon ‘in the groove’ and singing and naming those tunes! Kath was a bit of a star.

Nature called and we had to have a toilet stop in the next town. All our driver could find was a small supermarket which had one loo at the back.

It took that long for us all to go! So whilst waiting we bought some goodies for a bus lunch. We didn’t want to stop and waste time. So everyone went round and chose something for our bus picnic. There was all manner of junk food! Chips, chocolate, biscuits and cheese ( not so bad!) but the best was the big bag of cones and two tubs of ice cream. Chocolate and vanilla. Rob and Pam set up shop on the bus and Jill was the Uber of ice cream!

What a treat. We were told not to eat the cone so we could have seconds!

The fun and games continued until we turned off for Cinnamon Wild at Yala.

It’s set back from the beach but has a lagoon complete with crocodiles.

Driving into the resort we passed monkeys, warthogs, water buffalo and watched out for elephants.

The resort buildings are beautiful.

Our jungle cabin is lovely.

We are warned not to walk to, or from, the cabin after dark. Exciting.

We enjoyed a quick swim before drinks and dinner. The buffet was just great. So many choices.

We are off on safari tomorrow so an early night. Four of us girls walked back with a staff member who scanned the bush for animals. Then said ‘do you want up see the lagoon!’ We walked to the lagoon and he shone the torch around and we saw two crocodiles! Only about 100 metres from us.

A quick walk back to the cabins for an early night before our 5 am start tomorrow.