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dec 08, 2000
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december 11, 2000
It would have been sad to visit Brisbane and not get to see any of the beaches that extend for hundreds of kilometers photo here (or miles if you like 'em better) north and south. In fact, this is an entire return trip in itself. Fortunately, one of my email contacts with a multimedia developer, Hans, led to this weekend excursion to the beach about 100 km (that is 60 miles) south of Brisbane, staying over in the relaxed beach town of Coolangatta.

photo here Hans met me early on Saturday at my hotel in Brisbane, and whisked my south on the highway that runs about 1/3 the way around Australia, south from Cairns all the way around the corner and west to Adelaide. We were avoiding the crowded tourist destination of the Gold Coast, "Surfer's Paradise", whose concrete high rises resemble Miami Beach from a safe distance, and is reportedly way over supplied in terms of T-Shirt shops and trendy fashion outlets.

today's photos
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o o Gold Coast

photo here This area is near the border of the states of Queensland and New South Wales, literally a line you can see where the asphalt changes, separating Coolangatta (Queensland) from Tweed Heads (New South Wales). And just to make things even more interesting, New South Wales is on daylight savings time and Queensland not, so it is one hour later south of the border.

We stopped at several overlooks to gaze at the graceful curves of white sand beach. The water here is that tropical azure blue and so clear you can practically see tiny fish from hundreds photo here of feet above. I checked into the cheerful "Shipwreck Beach" motel, a rather ordinary, basic place with the desirable feature of being a 30 second walk across the street to the beach. I spent a relaxing afternoon swimming, soaking up the sun (plenty of sun block, they have a thin to absent ozone layer down under) and reading.

photo here In the evening Hans and his wife picked me up and we took a nice walk across the natural park land of Burleigh Heads, a trail which climbs photo here through a bush forest to some dramatic beach views. Along the way we saw several scrub turkeys, a black, wild turkey which is pretty lean as compared to the ones you find in the grocery store. We also came across an echidna, the spiny, palm sized ant eater, who was extremely shy and buries its head in the dirt when we tried to coax it out. We enjoyed a nice dinner at a Mexican restaurant, where I had to convince Hans that a margarita was not "dish water".

On Sunday they picked me up again, and we drove farther south into New South Wales to visit Byron Bay, photo here a scenic beach town that is pretty much an environmental oriented, photo herehippie-centric place, and probably has more hostels per square foot than anywhere else I have been. We stopped at the Byron Lighthouse, which sits on a high headland that juts out into the ocean, and thus is properly labeled as the "most easterly point of the Australian Mainland".

photo hereThe real treat here was gazing down from the high cliffs into the clear water and being able to see giant rays doing their underwater flying act. The real treat was seeing 2 or 3 pods of dolphins playing in the waves. From an anthropomorphic view, they seem to have an ideal life. We later went down to the beach and did some snorkeling among some small reef outcrops, complete with amazingly clear water, colorful fish, octopus, turtles, and (harmless) small sharks. In the evening we had a great meal at the "Earth & Sea" pizza place in Byron, makers of pizzas with exotic combinations of toppings (the "beethoven" has prawn, pineapple, and banana).

Early Monday morning Hans drove me back to Brisbane where I would have one more day to take in the town. I paid a visit to a colleague who teaches interactive multimedia at the Communications Design program at Queensland University of Technology (QUT). The afternoon was spent seeing more of the waterfront and downtown area, and just taking in a nice sunny day in the city. This was the prelude to a hop tomorrow down to Sydney and home the day after.

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