Hi Ho Silver!
29 Jan 2006
|Travel quote of the week!
"I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train." Oscar Wilde
As we drove into the historic Sunshine Coast town of Tewantin, the first thing we noticed was the whitewashed statue of an Anzac soldier. Not that difficult really as his plinth was in the middle of the main street. Opposite, at the entrance to the memorial park, the phrase, 'Lest we forget', had been carved and painted onto a wooden beam. How can we forget I wondered when the world has never stopped going to war with itself?
The volunteer guide at the information centre pointed us in the direction of the bus stop where an old Moreton Bay Fig tree provided cooling relief from the January heat. It was also there that over one hundred years ago or so, town meetings were held under the sprawling branches and long before that, it was used as a burial ground by the local Aboriginal people.
The gnarled trunk thick with age leant to one side. In recent times, a 2 metre square concrete block was built into the trunk to support the ailing tree. Although it is crippled, its majestic strength was still strong and as we stood underneath its green crown, the overwhelming sense of its history was almost tangible.
Green parkland fell away from beneath the tree down to the Mangrove lined banks of the Noosa River. Two hundred years ago, steam ships would dock here, unloading their cargoes of food, hardware and mining equipment for the Gympie goldfields that lay further north. The view of the river as it snaked its way towards the sea was impressive.
In the car park, Marie's brand spanking new Toyota RAV 4 glimmers like a silver ingot in the midday sun. Barely a week old, it shines like a newborn baby.
"We should give her a name." Marie suggested when we picked her up from the car dealership in Maroochydore.
I agreed and Marie suggested either, 'Silverado' or "Hi Ho Silver!' as in the Lone Ranger show.
"Hi Ho Silver!' would be good" I replied. "I'll be the Lone Ranger and you can be Tonto."
"Oh why do I have to be Tonto?" Marie argued as she cutely screwed her face up.
"Because when I was Don Quixote, you were Pancho, remember?" I reminded her.
"Ok." Marie conceded. "At least Tonto wasn't short and fat."
Sunday was our first chance to hit the open road with Hi Ho Silver! Our plan was to ride north along the coast to Noosa, then turn west into Tewantin before crossing the Bruce Highway for the hinterland of the Blackall Ranges, taking in the towns of Kenilworth and Maleny.
First up was a brief stop at Coolum Beach to watch the Surf Lifesaver boat contest. These carnivals are held every weekend in summer and clubs from every beach in Queensland compete for the title of best surf lifesaving club. The main beach was crowded with muscular men and women wearing very small bathing suits. Marie soon noticed that some of the male lifesavers were exposing their bum cheeks by wearing their speedos (togs) like a g-string.
"Why are their togs pulled up like that?" She asked without taking her eyes off their tight buns (Marie's description).
"Less resistance when swimming." I guessed. "But its bloody sexist isn't it." I added when I saw that it was only the men showing off their bare buttocks.
Rough seas and strong easterly winds created dangerous conditions for the competitors. We watched as the crews of the boats launched themselves through the crashing waves, the men and women rowing with everything they had and more. They reached the coloured buoys bobbing beyond the breakers without mishap but then on the return journey, three boats were capsized. The 2-metre swell flipped them over as if they were toys, flinging their crews into the boiling froth of the wave zone. Rescue boats waited to pick up any injured whilst the rest just had to swim after their boats that had been thrown from wave to wave until they beached on the shore. Thrilling stuff for the spectators but just another day in the life of a competing surf lifesaver.
Leaving Coolum Beach, we then drove through Hastings Street, Noosa's French Rivereria. On the banks of the Noosa estuary, we found an empty shady tree and enjoyed a picnic lunch while we watched other weekenders pursue water based activities. A shirtless cyclist caught our undivided attention. He must have been in his sixties but he had the body of a fit thirty-year old. I made a mental note to get my dusty bike out of the garage and start cycling again.
Once I had replenished my bloated and saggy body, we drove west through Noosaville and into Tewantin. Leaving there, we drove through the massive Tewantin State forest towards Cooroy. A scenic lookout sign gave us the chance to turn off the main bitumen road and Marie the opportunity to take 'Hi Ho Silver!' along a forest dirt road. At the Mt Tinbeewah car park, a sign informed us that we were 265 metres above sea level. A steep path then led us to the 500-metre summit where a windy lookout tower stood. We marvelled at the magnificent 360-degree views of mountains, forest, tiny farms and the distant tourist mecca of Noosa.
The town of Cooroy wasn't particularly interesting in a tourist sense so we continued on to the Bruce Highway-Queensland's main road north to Cairns. Turning south towards Brisbane, we exited at the Eumundi Kenilworth road turn-off. This 70km inland route to the mountain top town of Maleny has been designated as Tourist Drive 22. Meandering along fertile valleys, across rainforest covered passes, through dense pockets of state forest and country towns that time has almost forgot, this road is a treasure trove of natural and historic beauty.
We stopped at the one street town of Kenilworth for a pot of Earl Grey tea and a slice of gluten free and dairy free cake. Even though the whole town had lost its power for the past 4 hours, the café was still open and the staff prepared to boil water on their own kitchen gas stove to make our tea. The female owner and her two young staff - perhaps her daughters- were friendly and welcoming with information about the local area that was first settled by English dairy farmers. I thought back to my time trespassing (that's exactly how it felt sometimes) around Ireland with Marie. A thousand welcomes the Irish tourist board boasted but in most eating establishments, all we received was a thousand suspicious glances and smiles were as rare as snakes.
The village of Conondale was the next populated place we passed through. A general store and newsagent was the only sign of life so we kept on going, climbing up into the sky-high Conondale Ranges until we reached the alternative town of Maleny. We stopped at Mary Cairncross Park where one of my favourite Sunshine Coast Lookouts is situated. The sweeping views over the Glasshouse Mountains is a must see and one that I never tire of visiting. These ten monoliths are all what remains of an ancient volcano crater. Like a skeleton of a prehistoric dinosaur, these strangely shaped mountains loomed eerily from a vast flat plain.
It had been a long hot day and we decided to end it with a cold beer. Unfortunately we were disappointed to find that our favourite watering hole, King Ludwig's German restaurant and bar has already closed. Probably just as well because their selection of 30 traditional German preservative free beers would be too tempting especially since we still have to drive down the mountain to the Bruce Highway and home to Coolum Beach.
We settle for second best, Patrick's Irish pub and restaurant where we almost interrupted a mountain wedding. The laid back ceremony was the talk of the bar especially since the bride had chosen to wear a pair of rubber thongs (flip flops for youse Irish readers) and the groom was dressed in blue jeans. But with the awe inspiring backdrop of the Glasshouse mountains and a cool mountain breeze blowing through their au-natural hairstyles, I for one was impressed and what a wonderful sight to end our already amazing daytrip of the Sunshine Coast hinterland. No doubt, the first of many journeys that we will undertake with our gallant and handsome steed "Hi Ho Silver!