Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Playing Tourist At Home!

by Anna Campbell

April was visitor month chez Campbell - not counting the Easter Bunny!

It was fun to break out into social outings and it was special fun to host an English couple I've been friends with for many years who have never been to my corner of the world before. Which meant we got to play tourist - and I got to play tour guide in places I hadn't visited for ages.

Great fun!

Anyway, I thought you might appreciate some of the photos we took. I live on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. It's on the east coast, about an hour north of Brisbane the state capital and about 600 miles north of Sydney. It's a resort area and we get lots of retirees because the climate is so benign (except for this year when it's generally done a good impression of a rainy bog). The coastal plain is a little like Florida - tropical vegetation and beautiful beaches and a lot of housing estates reclaimed from swamp.

It's the kind of landscape and lifestyle you don't get in England. So my friends used to love to come home in the evenings and drink gin and tonics watching the day fade over the lake at the bottom of my back garden and listening to the sea pounding in the distance. We also have an amazing selection of birdlife here and that was another thrill for my visitors.

Only about half an hour away, it's a completely different universe. Lush, rugged mountains with areas of remnant rainforest mixed in with beautiful green valleys and breathtaking views east across the coast or west across yet more mountains.

The first two photographs are of the Glasshouse Mountains, named by Captain Cook when he sailed past this coast in 1770. They're so primeval, I find them a bit creepy. But they're certainly spectacular.

The first photo of Mount Coonowrin (Crook Neck - you can read the Aboriginal legend behind these names here) was taken from a really cool cafe on the winding road up to a wonderful lookout where you can see all the mountains spread out before you like a magnificent canvas. The second photo is of Mount Beerwah and was taken on the road away from the lookout.

The Lookout Cafe has wonderful home-made desserts and great coffee and a view to die for across a field of mango trees to this volcanic plug like something from Jurassic Park. Perhaps even cooler, it had KANGAROOS! Yup, if you look carefully in the centre of this photo just above, you'll see some wallabies popping out to check on the visitors from far away!

And while we were there watching the wallabies, this cheeky butcher bird swung by to inspect us at even closer quarters. Butcher birds have the most beautiful song and are afraid of no man! I've had one sitting on my rubbish bin when I've been cutting back the garden a couple of feet away. He quite calmly watched me throw the cuttings into the bin without ruffling a feather!

Another wonderful place we visited was Mary Cairncross Park. This magnificent remnant of the original rainforest was donated to the public by two visionary sisters and named in honor of their mother, who was an early conservationist and suffragette when neither cause was fashionable in Australia.

This is a photo of the lush palm grove on the rainforest walk. It's a wonderful, hauntingly beautiful place to visit, full of breathtakingly tall trees and home to wildlife like small kangaroos called pademelons and many species of birds and reptiles.

For someone from England, this kind of subtropical rainforest is completely exotic and my friends were awed by the wonderful greenery and the sense of timelessness. Not only that, but you get a wonderful view of our old friends the Glasshouse Mountains from the entrance to the park!

So do you ever play tourist in your own home area and what do you show visitors when you do? If I was coming to see you, what would you take me to see to showcase the best of where you live?


Sally Clements said...

Fantastic post, Anna. Gosh those are beautiful pictures! I took my DD in to Dublin on Saturday, and showed her the ancient library in Trinity College and the Book of Kells. Seeing it all through her eyes made it new and fresh for me too, its amazing how we ignore things on our doorstep, and it takes a visitor (or a child) to open them again!

Christina Hollis said...

Hi Anna - wonderful photos, and a great blog! My aunt was a '£10 Pom' and had a big pineapple farm not far from The Sunshine Coast. That name always sounds so upbeat - do you all wear permanent smiles?
I take foreign visitors to see the terrific views of Gloucestershire from Crickley Hill and tell them about the beautiful Birdlip Mirror, found in a bronze age burial nearby. They also like the spookier places such as Clearwell Caves, where Doctor Who & Harry Potter have been filmed.

Annie West said...

Hi Anna,

What a lovely time your visitors must have had! I particularly like the pic of the butcher bird. They're a little different to the ones we get here.

In our part of the east coast of Australia we take visitors to the Hunter Valley vineyards which are very picturesque, the lake (enormous), the beaches (too many to count), or the bush reserves in the mountains. Lots to choose from.

Jo's Daughter said...

OMGosh you live in a gorgeous area!!! Fabulous pictures!! I live in a tiny village, and we have beautiful village scene's if you know where to look.

Old houses and 3 churches. Not impressive but country cosy. Fields of cows, some birds are there but well hidden. The old waterpump, a mining tribute (statue) because there used to be a mine close by, now there isn't anymore it's filled up. A few modern statues that I personally don't like. But different people have different taset so you can show them to visitors.

Walking through all the old streets it's only an hour to see it all. And then you are walking slowly, practically backwarths! But still it's what I know & love. So when I play the tourist I do enjoy it.

Nas Dean said...

Hi Anna,

Lovely photos and I felt I was viewing the Sunshine coast through your eyes. It sounds a fantastic place.

Where I live, you can do the around the Island in six hours and the scenery is beautiful. There are the usual tourist traps such as five star resorts on white sandy beaches but inland through the highlands have their own charm. Then there are too many to count smaller Islands with hotels and resorts, sea, sun and surf. All very beautiful.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hey Anna, lovely photos. I really like your part of the world, wish it didn't rain every time I get there!
My little farm is in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney (Australia). Because the area is less than two hours drive from Sydney and has spectacular, unspoiled scenery it is popular with tourists. And yes, we have kangaroos hopping through our place all the time and that is a great drawcard for visitors!

krazymama_98 said...

I live in phoenix, arizona. So yes, january, winter time back east, is a prime time to visit me. There really isnt much to go see except "mountains', the desert and golfing. But the people that have come to visit in the winter seem to love it! And I will say, we feel like we live in paradise. Yes, the summers can be harsh with the temps and blazing sun. But when the winter comes, it totally makes up for it!! We gladly make the trade off.

Julia Smith said...

Hi Anna - I've been woefully absent on my stalking-er-following your blog tour for Midnight's Wild Passion. But I'm ecstatic to find you playing tour guide.

The Tasmanian convict story I'm writing (yes, for awhile now - it's on the backburner because I'm focusing on my vampires at the moment) definitely has those exact moments you mentioned where your English visitors were awed by the exotic plant life in your neck of the woods. Thanks for the gorgeous photos!

When we have visitors here in Halifax, Nova Scotia, we take them out to Lawrencetown Beach for sandy coastline, Peggy's Cove for giant boulder coastline, Point Pleasant Park for a woodsy stroll, Public Gardens for Victorian charm, the Citadel for military history and the firing of the noon gun, the waterfront for general harbouriness, a pub for some East Coast celtic music and my mom's for something delicious to eat.

Anna Campbell said...

Sally, having foreign visitors really wakes you up to things in your local area, doesn't it? I hadn't done a lot of the lush hinterland in years and I kept looking at it, thinking, "Wow, this is on my doorstep!" Thanks for saying you liked the photos - you can see what I mean about that slightly brooding edge to the Glasshouse Mountains, can't you? Lucky you with the Book of Kells on your doorstep. I saw it once on a very dark and rainy afternoon back in 1985. Unforgettable.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Christina, that's EXACTLY the area we were in - went past lots of pineapple farms although this has become such a popular residential area, a lot of the rural ground has been gobbled up for houses. Still amazingly beautiful, though. The Sunshine Coast does sound upbeat, doesn't it? We've had such a wet year this year, though, that I've grown webbed feet. It should be called the Soggy Coast at the moment! We had a couple of stormy days when my friends were here but managed enough fine weather to get out and about, which was lovely.

Anna Campbell said...

Annie, you live in a great part of the world for visitors. I can speak from personal experience although we've never yet made the vineyards, have we? We'll have to remedy that on my next visit. What I love about here is you get that combination of the mountains and the sea. Very lovely. Oh, how interesting that your butcher birds are different. I don't think I noticed. We get the grey ones too.

Anna Campbell said...

Jo, so glad you enjoyed the blog. It was fun to share the photos! Your home area sounds lovely - I checked your profile and see you come from the Netherlands. I visited Holland on the same trip in 1985 when I saw the Book of Kells (actually Holland was 1986 but who's counting? LOL!). But I really only did the museums in Amsterdam which are spectacular. I'd love to get out of the capital next time I come over.

Anna Campbell said...

Oops, Jo's Daughter, I called you Jo! Sorry!

Anna Campbell said...

Nas, I'd love to visit Fiji one day. It looks so beautiful and I love islands. So glad you enjoyed the photos - I hope you all managed to winkle out the wallabies in that distant photo!

Anna Campbell said...

Kandy, I rarely see kangaroos either so they're a thrill for me. When I catch an early flight, I pass the local airfield just as the sun comes up and there's always a mob grazing there then. I'd love to come and visit your farm one day - it always sounds so beautiful. We've had a couple of fine days in a row here which is pretty amazing - we've had SO much rain in the last 12 months!

Anna Campbell said...

Krazymama, I'd love to visit Arizona one day. I made it to Denver last year and I loved that scenery. I was surprised that Denver is officially classed as a desert climate! The air is so amazingly clear there. We have really sticky summers here with horrible humidity so I suggest people visit outside the really hot weather as well. The other seasons here are gorgeous.

Anna Campbell said...

Julia, tsk, tsk for failing in your stalking duties ;-) It means if I ever get to Nova Scotia (and it's on the list!), you'll have to give me a guided tour to make up for it! It's interesting reading early reports of Europeans in Australia - the place was SOOOO different, it just baffled them. It took a while for the real beauty of the place to be appreciated by the white settlers. And some of the things like black swans just struck them as so bizarre as to be inexplicable. I get the occasional black swan on my lake at the bottom of the garden (well, it's not actually MY lake!). Always gives me a thrill. They're such majestic birds. I love the sound of the things you show people around your area - I love cold, bleak, windswept scenery so I think I'll just love Nova Scotia!

Helen said...


Love those photos I have driven through the Sunshine Coast but never done any site seeing there Ron and I must remedy that the next time we go to Queensland to visit my sister.
Seeing as how I live in the western suburbs of Sydney we could go south down Wollongong way so many lovely sites there or up to The Blue Mountains or to The Central Coast so many lovely places to visit.

Have Fun

Anna Campbell said...

Helen, you'll have to spend some time here. It's such a pretty area and it feels surprisingly wild and remote when you get up into the hills. Some lovely old country towns too which are fun to visit. And close enough to the big smoke to still give you good coffee ;-) I have very fond memories of that coast south of Sydney. I had a friend who lived just north of Wollongong and I used to visit her all the time. It's such dramatic scenery, isn't it?

Melanie Milburne said...

Anna, I love your photos. Queensland is so beautiful.
Come down to Tasmania and I'll be your tour guide!

Anna Campbell said...

Melanie, just booked a flight! Well, maybe not, but I do appreciate the offer and I'd love to take advantage of it one day! I was lucky enough to have a short holiday in Hobart back in the early 90s and I saw a lot of places around there but there's so much yet that I haven't seen.

Pat Cochran said...

For my visitors: NASA's Johnson Space
Center & Space Center Houston, San
Jacinto Monument & Battlegrounds (Gen.
Santa Ana lost the battle for Tejas
here), world-renown Medical Center,
south to Galveston, north to the Hill
Country vineyards & the George H.W.
Bush Presidential Library, Galveston-
Houston Diocesan Co-Cathedral, and
whichever sports team is in town. My
favorite is an air tour of the area!

Pat Cochran

Lolarific said...

I think I'd definately have to take you by the Biltmore house! I live right in the middle on North Carolina and we're in the prime spot for a quick mountain trip or a quick beach trip. I love both sides equally, but to host the fabulous Anna Campbell a trip to Biltmore would have to be the first stop!

Anna Campbell said...

Wow, Pat, that sounds great. I've been to Texas (RWA in Dallas) but didn't get around much. Would love to see more of the state. The air tour sounds wonderful!

Anna Campbell said...

Ooh, Lola, that sounds FABULOUS!!! I've heard so much about the Biltmore Estate - hate to name drop here (well, don't really hate it, LOL!) but the first time I heard about it, Stephanie Laurens was going to stay on the grounds which gave the option of after hours tours. Sounded just fantastic. Ooh, you're on! If ever I come to North Carolina, you've got a date!

Kaelee said...

Hi Anna ~ Lovely pictures.

My husband and I love taking people around our city and the nearby countryside. In Calgary itself we have a zoo, a science center, a museum, an air museum and a military museum. We also have the Calgary Tower so you can get a bird's eye view of the city and maybe have a meal in the revolving restaurant. If you are here during Stampede you get to see the rodeo and chuckwagon races.

If you like mountains, Banff National Park is an hours drive away and Lake Louise just another hour away. There's lots of hiking and a hot pool to soak off in after your hike. We meet tourists from around the world in Banff and environs.

The mountains are to the west of Calgary and to the east is the prairies. Drumheller is an hour away and is home to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology. It's also the start of the badlands.

For the first ten years of our marriage we lived in four different places in eastern Canada. We played tourist every free moment we could.

Anna Campbell said...

Sorry I didn't get back to comment last night. I tried by blogger was having conniptions! Let's hope this morning I'm more successful!

Anna Campbell said...

Kaelee, whenever I see something to do with Calgary in Canada I smile. One of my favorite places in the world is Calgary on the Isle of Mull which is a beautiful basically uninhabited beach (there are a few houses scattered around the area). And the name spawned this huge city in Canada! I've got friends who have visited Calgary and Banff and brought back photos which have made me want to come and see the area! Maybe one day!!!!

marybelle said...

I have just come back from The Sunshine Coast - Coolum Beach - visiting my family. I saw The Glasshouse Mountains on the way up & back. In Toowoomba I show visitors the view from Picnic Point & the gardens during the Carnival of Flowers.

Michele L. said...

I live next to a state park, Lake Michigan and the dunes. It is so pretty here! I would definitely take them to see all the sites that our area is famous for which is the dunes. Our sand is the only singing sand in the world.