Well, two firsts in this blog - our first trip in our van 'Winnie' and our first tennis tournament in Oz! We'd already decided to play the tournament at Redcliffe, Queensland, but getting the van when we did meant we could take it on a trial trip too. This also meant a massive shopping trip one day to equip the van as we needed everything - duvets, sheets, towels, food, loo-rolls etc etc! Luckily for us we were helped out by Bill and friends Paul and Brenda who donated various items, but Bob was visibly paler by the end of the shop! Loading the van went well and everything fitted in - needless to say I have since rearranged things, but at least it was all in and we were ready for the off.
The next day we drove north from Runaway Bay, past Brisbane and onto the Redcliffe Peninsula. Purely by chance we came across the wreck of HMQS Gayundah which had been decommissioned and deliberately run aground to serve as a breakwater structure. In Redcliffe itself I have to admit, that due to the small carpark and lack of spaces, we had trouble parking the van and ended up with a short walk into town. We walked along the esplanade, marvelling at the view across to Moreton Island. However, we wanted to see the Bee Gees Way so we carried on into town, and it didn't disappoint - a whole street filled with statues, photos, info, paintings and even a giant screen playing their music videos and interviews.
The beauty of a motorhome is that you can stop pretty much anywhere for lunch, so we ended up on a grassy park, at Woody Point, watching the fisherman unload their catch. And then on to the site which was a few miles further up the coast at Scarborough. It was pleasant enough but our neighbours were very 'helpful' once they had found out we were newbies. This wasn't helped by the fact that we couldn't get the external water to work - it kept leaking everywhere! It wasn't a problem as we have an onboard water tank too, so we discreetly turned the tap off and pretended all was ok so as to avoid more 'help'! Everything else connected and worked, so we left the van and walked around the promontory we were on to watch the glorious sunset, before heading to the local Boat Club for a well deserved 'schooner' of beer and a cold Sav (the aussies shorten every word possible - a cold Sauvignon Blanc to us!). The next day we sorted the water - a simple airlock, which was obvious once Mr. Helpful had left us alone!
The tennis tournament started at 8am so we were up early. We had decided to bike the few miles back to Redcliffe as it seemed easier than disconnecting everything and extricating ourselves from a tight spot at 7am. Well, it was hard going, a few big hills, but we made it. Our first match was against the winners from last year but we didn't realise this until afterwards. Bob and I always start slowly, and the bike ride hadn't helped. We lost 6-3 but felt we should have done better. We then won all our other matches to end up as runners-up and two bottles of wine to the good - RESULT! In the afternoon the organiser had found us partners for the men's and ladies' doubles. Bob and Greg ended up runners-up and Bob got some socks. I was in a two-group round-robin in the +35 category (all age groups were amalgamated) and my partner, who plays +65, and I ended up second in our group, losing to the eventual winners 6-3. I then found out that I had just played the current Australian no 1 and no 3 in the +40 age group - what a privilege. We thoroughly enjoyed our first tournament but there was some adjusting to do. The nets do not reach the ground and balls are rolled back to the other end under the net. This is even more annoying when your partner serves into the net as the ball is often hit back to the baseline. The sun was also a pretty big factor, both in terms of being in your eyes and being hot. I struggled at first as, having worn my reactive glasses constantly, it was a shock to wear lenses and face the full brightness of the sun. Maybe I will have to invest in a pair of 'sunnies' for tennis?!
The next day we poodled about in the van, before embarking on a bike ride along the coastal promenade which runs the length of the peninsular from Scarborough to Woody Point. Being along the coast it had the added advantage of being flat. We are constantly amazed at the facilities provided for everyone to use along these paths - toilets, barbecues, shaded areas, water fountains, gym equipment and a cycle repair facility on this one. You could even borrow a pedometer from the local council office to ensure you did your 10,000 steps for the day!
The last stop on our trip was Bribie Island, where we stopped at a site in Bongaree. One of the comments about the site had mentioned noisy birds, and others had replied in a derogatory fashion. Well, this was no ordinary bird noise - the trees were full of flocks of lorikeets, doves and others we couldn't name and, at dusk, there was just a cacophany of bird calls. It was just awesome and we watched the flocks take off, settle then take off again. We knew we had seen something quite special but, at 4:30am, we were not thinking quite the same, although we were almost tempted to get up and watch again! Bribie Island had amazing beaches, but most of it can only be reached with a permit and a 4WD, neither of which we had. However, we were still impressed with the clean, sandy beaches and the fish and chips. Fish and chip shops are not as we know them - you can choose from about 10 different varieties of fish or shellfish, you can choose crumbed, battered or grilled and you can choose chips or salad. We cannot not mention the soldier crabs either. Having parked up alongside the beach for lunch we suddenly realised that the beach was 'moving'. Upon closer inspection there were hundreds and hundreds of soldier crabs, all moving together in a 'squadron', or whatever the collective noun for soldier crabs is?
So, our first trip was quite eventful, very memorable and a lot of fun. We can't wait for the next one!