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So you may be asking yourselves….”what exactly has Jill been learning on this journey of self-discovery?”   Well, I now know that even if you think you’re being nice by letting an overly-helpful, partially senile old man help you with a flat tire – you should probably just take care of it yourself.   

Noosa National ParkSo Stacey and I met up last week, here in Brisbane, and we rented ourselves a Jucy Camper-van.  These are great vehicles – totally self-contained: bed, fridge, stove..we were all set.  We headed South, stopping here and there along the coast, finally to find ourselves in Byron Bay.  This is a beautiful town…gorgeous beaches, lots of surfing, cool shops to check out.  We had a swim and checked out the nightlife, and although it slowed us down the next day, we had a great time and met lots of interesting people that night. 

In the morning we continued South to a small town called Ballina.  The scenery was spectacular – lush, green, rolling hills spotted with trees full of  large, shockingly bright, purple flowers.   We ooh-ed and ahh-ed as we climbed the hills and saw the coast in the distance…. and to cap off a perfect afternoon we found a great sushi place right in the middle of the wee village.  Unexpected and Perfect.

That day we made our way back up North, past Brisbane and over to the Sunshine Coast.  Lots of driving, through rush hour, but we had some tunes and good conversation to keep us occupied.  We hit up a little town called Noosa.  This is a favourite spot of Stacey’s and I can see why!  We spent a couple of days exploring the beaches and parks. 

We headed inland to the Sunshine Coast Hinterlands and explored the many small towns in the area.  Glass House MountainsWe saw the Glass House Mountains which look beautiful, if not slightly out of place in the surrounding countyside. 

Although we had planned to camp out in the hinterlands, the ocean called to us.  We did some research and found out that even though there was a triathlon happening that weekend, there was space available at a beach-side camp ground in Mooloolaba.   Great!

As we entered the little camp ground and I made to back into our reserved spot, an older gentleman appeared out of nowhere.  He began directing me… abruptly – with no real words  (just aggressive, yet unclear, hand movements).  This relatively simple manoever  required very little driving skill, yet, somehow it took almost ten minutes.  It was hot…I had been driving for hours….I just wanted to park and head to the beach, but this man was really trying to be helpful so we continued to humour him and finally made it into the exact spot we were supposed to be in.  It, really was, a fine parking job….sigh.

Thus began our relationship with the old man.  He is a permanent resident at the park and although he’s not paid, he helps out by tidying up and directing traffic.  His wife told us that about six months ago he decided that one of the trees in the park needed pruning.  With no prompting, he climbed the tree and started to cut down the huge pine-cone-like fruit growing from the palm.  Well these fruit are, apparently, really heavy; one managed to fall on the poor guy, throwing him from said tree.  He broke his hip and was off his feet for months.  This is very sad, but I can’t help giggling to myself as I write this.  He’s trying so hard to be helpful!

The next day we realized that one of the tires was a little flat.  It was a slow leak, if anything ,so we planned to fill the tire up at the local gas station before heading out for the day.  Wouldn’t you know it:  the old man showed up again – really, as if out of nowhere, and stopped us as we were pulling out.  He pulled off the hubcap (we’re not sure why…) and started to fiddle with it.  He managed to actually break off a piece of it and then couldn’t replace it.  I got it back on and we thanked him for his ‘help’ and tried to get going.  He stopped us at the gate and told us he had a pump and would fill the tire up.  He hulled out this piece of machinery from WWI (there may have been a mouse and a wheel in there somewhere, I can’t be sure) and hooked it up to the tire.  We all stood there watching the tire deflate.  It took us a couple of minutes to convince him it wasn’t working…we unhooked the crazy generator gadget and, luckily, had enough air to make it to the gas station.  With only 6psi left – we successfully filled it up to the required 34psi and made our way inland to explore.  Drama complete.

So we had a good last few days in the area.  We made some friends, saw some crazy animals (some of them being the aforementioned new friends) and were awestruck by the beauty that surrounded us.  The Hinterlands

It was hard to give the van up yesterday, but we are flying North to the Whittsunday Coast today…off to the next leg of the adventure. 

Oh yeah….somehow the hubcap fell off and we were charged $60 by the rental company!  Maybe the laughs were worth it.

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