Bake at 450 for 4 Days and Let It Cool for 3

Settle in for a long one because within the past two weeks I have flown 1375.99 km, driven 1881 km, kayaked over shipwrecks, surfed waves and sand dunes but before all the exciting part there was planning. All done as last second as possible which is not very surprising considering my history with procrastinating. The week began very relaxed as usual although it was clear students wanted the mid semester to hurry. Ali and I had booked a flight to Brisbane bright and early at 7am on Saturday morning. We wanted to road trip along the gold coast and all the way back to Melbourne. So of course, we sat down to finally plan the details of the trip on Friday night and boy did we regret it. We hadn’t finished working out the itinerary and packing until 1 or 2 in the morning. Luckily, our friend Ash had offered us a ride to the airport so very weary eyed we left Saturday morning for Brisbane.

In Melbourne, the weather has been getting colder where a sweater or scarf is often a necessary companion throughout the day. So, arriving in Brisbane the heat hit hard as we dragged our luggage from the airport to the hostel. With the rest of the day we walked around Brisbane, saw the famous Brisbane letters next to the river, and got a quick look at the GOMA art museum. For the most part the city was very quiet considering it was Easter weekend. On Easter day, we walked around the botanical gardens in the center of the city and took a ferry ride at night. We had a delicious Easter dinner by the water and saw Kangaroo point, a beautiful rock structure along the river. In between sightseeing we also had to continue planning, booking, and then planning again when issues arose. We were skeptical how the rest of the trip would go with all the last second planning but all we had to do was take it day by day. We relaxed when we could and enjoyed the hot sun while we could.

 

Clear Kayaking along the Wrecks

On the third day, we left the hostel and took a ferry to Moreton Island, the third largest sand island in the world and it was absolute paradise. Getting off the ferry, you step into soft white sand next to blue water it almost looked artificial. Although the sand is absolutely wonderful to walk in, the luggage is completely different. We took ages dragging it across the beach while others drove away in their cars. The camp site was nearby but we had no clue where. Finally, after half an hour of painful dragging we were relieved to finally arrive at the campsite which we passed at least three times while searching. We made a mental note to be more cautious of over packing for future trips. After the luggage ordeal, the rest of our time on Moreton Island was smooth sailing. The day consisted of snorkeling around a ship wreck located close to shore and having dozens of fish surround us. The tour guides had bread for bait and taught us how to catch them with our hands. Right after, we kayaked around the wrecks in clear kayaks allowing us to see fish swimming in the clear water right beneath us. We walked to the nearby resort and stayed with other tourists to watch a wild dolphin feeding. For the first time, I had seen the sun set on the water since we were on the western side of the island. Living on the east coast my entire life I never thought much about it but it was gorgeous.

The Wrecks

Hiking trails

The next day we went on walking trails to a nearby sand dune. I had never gone to a sand dune so seeing such a large area with sand and no ocean alongside was bizarre. Part of the tour that Ali and I went on gave the option to go sand tobogganing however the prices were a little too steep for us. Online we saw that sometimes people leave behind boards and candle wax for others and that’s exactly what we found underneath a nearby tree. It was so fun sliding down these huge mountains of sand and we spent hours basking in the sun. I would lay at the bottom of the hill pretending I was in the ocean swimming when I was just kicking sand everywhere and getting it all over my clothes. I felt so carefree, I will never forget it.

 

We really began our road trip after our two days at Moreton when picked up the campervan. Driving was terrifying and weird at first but not that bad after we got used to it. We drove a few hours to Springbrook National Park to find one of the world’s largest glow worm colonies located underneath a natural bridge. Late at night the tours walk along the path with flashlights in hand all headed to the same destination. You would not believe there was a ceiling because the worms look just like stars in the sky, and then someone would light their flashlight at the floor and these stars would disappear to reveal a huge cave. Murmurs would echo from the various tour groups along with the quiet rush of a waterfall close by. We stayed in a campsite that night and the next morning returned to see the path in the day light.

Shh, the glowworms are sleeping underneath the natural bridge

Following our morning hike, we began our drive to Byron Bay, a famous beach town along the gold coast. We had a picnic lunch in a nearby field and enjoyed the beautiful weather. The sand was soft as ever and we spent lots of time skipping rocks and battling waves alongside other beachgoers. The Byron Bay lighthouse is marked as the easternmost point of Australia and many go and watch the sunrise to admire its beauty and for bragging rights since you are one of the first people in the country to watch the sunrise that morning. Although we had a painful time waking up, the sunrise was gorgeous and absolutely worth it.

We had booked a full day planned so immediately afterwards we were on the road again.  Four hours later we were in the water ready for our surfing lessons in the small-town of Port Macquarie. I would say it was rather successful lesson since I road at least 4 waves all the way back to the shore, always ending with a celebratory scream and tripping into the water right after. A very busy and exhausting two hours later we went to our last destination for the day: Sydney another speedy 4 hour drive south. Once there we relaxed at our friend Mark’s house and went straight to bed. The next day we walked the local markets and had breakfast in a beautiful garden surrounded by flowers and pastry stands. This day was much more relaxed yet unfortunately it also marked the end of our incredible trip. Then we had a homemade dinner with deliciously marinated salmon, made by yours truly, on top of rice and paired with shredded carrot, fried mushrooms and onions, cucumber, chopped cabbage, lots of music, and plenty of laughter. This whole trip felt like vacation from my vacation and I loved every second of it.

~Katherine Sanchez

Post-Surfing Lesson, Port Macquarie

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