Tap Tales Part 2

So, there we are.

All together in the car. About to head off for a drive a couple of days after Sam's ill-fated fight with a ferocious garden tap. And Budge, back behind the wheel, just can't help himself.

"No garden taps HERE" he chuckles heartily, whilst managing to simultaneously wink at the kids in the back and raise his eyebrows at his wife, as he settles himself comfortably in the drivers seat, presses down on the accellerator, and drives our loyal Land Cruiser forward...

...running right over the top of - and completely destroying - Benji's bike.

Benji getting familiar with his brand spanking new bicyle. Onya dad.

Tap Tales Part 1

Our trusty Toyota Land Cruiser has notched up about 34,000 kilometres so far.

Across all sorts of of terrain. Through water crossings. Along isolated beaches. Up and down steep inclines. Off the beaten paths and on lots more beaten ones. Dodging wandering cows, goats and sheep. Navigating amongst wild roos,emus, camels and cassowaries. Bombarded by kamikaze insects. Hit by wild winds. Pelted by rains. Whipped with mud, sticks, rocks and branches. Performing at all times with grace. With ease. With style. And with nigh a scratch or dint in sight.

Only to come a cropper at a caravan park in Evans Head, when driven forward - forward! - over a mounted garden tap.

We'd like to say that it was dark (it was midday) or that it was overcast (it was bright and sunny) or that we were in a hurry (we were just popping out for a spot of supermarket shopping) or that the tap was obscured by  shrubs or long grass (it was completely on its own).

We'd also like to say that it was Budge behind the wheel.

Obviously - unfortunately - as can only be expected - it was not.

A 34,000 kilometre triumph. Felled in one foul swoop. Onya Sam.

The trecherous tap and its passenger door victim.

L-Plates at Evans Head

The beach at Evans Head is renowned for its soft waves that are perfect for L-Plater surfers learning to master their boards. Regretably we don't have surf boards with us, and the inspiration to hire some and/or book in for a lesson only hits as we are heading out of the town after a two night stay. Not that we leave empty handed, having notched up enough boogie boarding, body surfing and beach walking to keep each of us content... if a tad more sunburnt than usual.

At the Evans Head lookout,  beach sprawling out into the horizon.

Brunswick Heads

Our arrival in Brunswick Heads coincides with the arrival of inclement weather and our first few days are some of the most overcast and wet we've seen all year.

Luckily we are staying on the banks of the Brunswick river, which is equally fun in the wet and the dry and easily keeps the younger Biharys busy for hours on end.

In between we scoot out on daytrips to the surrounding towns: Nimbin, Bangalow, Mullumbimby, Lismore, Newrybar, Uki, Ballina, Byron Bay and Suffolk Park; clocking up lots of kilometres in the car and broadening our perception of just how many great places – and ways – there are to live.

Our social calendar also gets a dust-off: there’s dinner with our Mullumbimby mates Paul and Ben Blay and their families... and our Byron Bay buddy Pete Silverberg and his family too.

And when the sun finally comes out, there’s still time to fully enjoy the beachside, riverside haven that is Brunswick Heads, in all its glowing glory.

Out for a walk after we arrive in Brunswick Heads and its the most natural thing in the world for Jack to slip his hand into his dad's. It's these moments, more than any else, that we know won't last forever. We'll take what we can get, and enjoy every single second.
The view from our caravan, as the kids discover the Brunwick River for the first time.
A place to swim, to body surf, to canoe, to fish, to hunt crabs, to dig holes... to disappear for HOURS!
Ziah and Ben Blay in a big Budge bear-hug.
And more Blay Play... this time with Paul and his lovely ladies.
Nectarines (not narcotics..) in Nimbin.
Mullumbimby Farmers Market on a Friday morning. Moments later we are scoffing fresh bagels and reminiscing wistfully about Melbourne and Glicks.
Three Biharys (left of centre, behind the twins in red tees) watching the Spaghetti Circus youth troupe perform at the Mullumbimby Music Festival. Intrieged, then inspired, they then regale us with countless handstands and cartwheels for the rest of the day.
Catching teeny fish in buckets down at Brunwick River.

Happy Birthday Papa

Happy birthday, beloved Papa David. How lucky we are to have been able to celebrate with you!

Benji and his portrait of papa... not a bad effort for his VERY FIRST EVER drawing of a person. 
Our November Birthday Boys together.
An over-exposed shot but it perfectly captures the moment as papa unwraps his gift from Rikki - gem stones carefully selected from her collection, ten of her own cents added in, and all wrapped intricately in paper and blue tac.
"Daaarling, it's wonderful. Is it all really for me?" (in genuine delight)
"Yes Papa". (in even more genuine delight)

Happy Birthday Jack

Jack's birthday, Surfers-style.
Lots of food. Lots of family. Lots and lots of presents.
One very happy 9 year old. Happy Birthday Jack, we love you!

It was a logistical challenge to ensure that our visit to Surfers (and rendezvous with family) would coincide with Jack's birthday. By all accounts - and by all smiles - it was well worth it. 
Big birthday brekkie buffet. The pancakes, icecream and fruit are great. The company, even better! 
Cake time.
Ending the afternoon with the promised Birthday Slurpee.

THE theme parks

Wet n’ Wild on Sunday, with excited cousins and Auntie Loo in tow.
Movie World on Monday, with cousins, Auntie and a gung-ho Nanna Laima on board.
Dreamworld on Friday, this time with Nanna and fun Uncle Joel. (Mum and dad get to skip this one ... and enjoy a dream world of their own.)

Quote of the day:
Rikki, as we enter the carpark at Wet n' Wild and see the thrill rides looming large, exclaims loudly: "Super golly grief, I'm scared out of my wits!"
Brief pause, then adds quietly to herself and in somewhat of a puzzled tone: "What are wits?"

Three Wet n' Wild victors in front of a beast well conquered (including very intimidating drop slide in the middle).
Waiting for more wave action at the Wet n' Wild Wave Pool.
The slide we started and ended the day on at Wet n' Wild.
(In hindsight it was not a good idea seating Sam and Jemima on one side and lightweights Elliot and Benji on the other for this particular ride down, as the otherwise sturdy raft almost folds in on itself and flings the fellas off, on some of the sharper turns. Live and learn.)  
Jack entranced at the Movie World stunt show that he bucked up at having to attend but was mature enough to concede did more than deliver the goods.
Drenched - but decidedly pleased with ourselves - after riding Wild West Falls.
(Nanna Laima takes note and, when accompanying Jack for another ride in the afternoon, tucks her hair into a plastic bag and emerges with her red locks dry and in place. An impressive improvisation which leaves us all rueing the fact that noone had been on hand to get THAT photo...) 
Bat Benji casts a long shadow after a big day out.

Surfers Parasite

There are so many reasons that Surfers IS a Paradise for us.

* Surprise visit from Auntie Loo and cousins Jemima, Marcus and Elliot. Who knew we could cram so much activity – and exhaust six children so completely – in just four short days.

* Much anticipated rendezvous with Papa David, Nanna Laima and Uncle Joel, that is much enjoyed and once again seems to end much, much, MUCH too soon.

* Tackling three theme parks in the space of one week, where Jack distinguishes himself not only as a King-Of-The-Thrill-Rides but also as a Master-Of-Persuasion in coaxing someone to accompany him on them. (First prize here to the ever obliging and gutsy Nanna Laima. Dare devil daddy a solid Runner-Up.)

* Discovering that apart from changing its name from Grundys to Timezone (and issuing game points electronically instead of via paper tickets), not much else has changed about Caville Avenue’s top family attraction. It even has the Rifle Shooting Gallery! We are lured in twice.

* Benji only just making the minimum 100cm cutoff for entry into the family thrill rides at the theme parks – narrowly averting what would otherwise have been the biggest, loudest, most heart wrenching disaster of the entire year.

* Hanging out at Nanna and Papa's new Surfers apartment, with its “see it to believe it” view, sparkling spool, and capacity to sleep three children in three separate bedrooms for three nights straight.

* Benji finally scoring the skateboard he has been angling for since we watched Back to the Future months earlier, as an early birthday present from Nanna and Papa. Hello Benji “Marty McFly” Bihary.

* Enjoying the simple pleasure of being able to walk for kilometres in either direction along the beach or boulevard. (Enjoying the more complicated pleasure of distracting weary children when they have been dragged along and the appeal of walking has worn thin.)

* Celebrating not one but two big birthdays together with family, as Jack turns 9 years old and Papa turns 66 years young.

Ten days in Surfers. Paradise, for sure!

First photo after the cousins arrive. We had predicted there'd be hoots, howls and shrieks of surprise when they appeared - out of the blue - on our doorstep. Instead, Jack steps outside, takes it all in with a sweeping glance, shrugs and says casually "Oh. Hello Marcus." One cool cat indeed. (Though as the bear hugs are exchanged over the next few minutes, there are definitely tears of delight that we spy in his eyes. No hiding the joy in this boy.)  
Sharing a felafel meal together with our long lost mishpoocha on their first night in town.
Heading home after a big night at Caville Avenue's Timezone. Benji has already crashed.
Bro and Sis bonding on the beach.
The Spool.
Bigger than a spa. Smaller than a pool.
Dug into a balcony nine floors up at Nanna and Papa's apartment in Surfers.
We can't get enough.
Pig tail princesses on their way to Jack's Birthday Brekkie Buffet.
Last photo before Nanna and Joel scoot to catch their plane back to Melbourne. It is about 2:30pm. By 4:30pm both Rikki and Benji have falled asleep for what we presume is a late afternoon nap. Naive us, yet again. They don't wake up (they don't roll over... they don't even twitch...) until after 7.30am the next morning.

Brizzy

48 hours in a big bustling metropolis like Brisbane - amongst crowds, traffic and concrete - is about all we can handle these days. So we cram in a picnic lunch at South Bank, hang out like locals in the bohemian West End, do a driving tour of the city and surrounds, navigate across town to squeeze in a spa treatment for Sam - and then scadoodle outa there.

Quote of the stay, heard from Benji in the back seat as Sam hands out food: "Vegemite sandwich, come to mama...!"

All giggles as Rikki and Benji swap identities...
... and swap again...
... and yet again.
Looking after a weak bird found outside our caravan. We leave it in a tree and are relieved to see that it has found its way home when we return that night. 
Nepalese temple in Southbank, a relic from Expo 88 and which, upon closer inspection, reveals some very X-rated carvings.

Frolicking in Forest Glen

Basing ourselves in Forest Glen, we can access much of the Sunshine Coast. We head out in a different direction each morning of our 4 day stay to explore. Our great discoveries include:

* 14 metre waterslide and home cinema. For these, we don't even need to leave the resort van park.
* The super Organic Superstore ... at the end of our street. Convenient indeed.
* The Big Pineapple. Celebrating its grand re-opening after an extended closure THE DAY we visit. Uncanny.
* Montville. Queensland's equivalent of Harndorf in SA, with storybook-style main street. From the cuckoo clock shop to the toy emporium, an endless, and entirely unexpected, delight.
* Woodford. Great to see where the famous Folk Festival is held. But otherwise a big disappointment.
* Beerwah, Beerburrum and the Glass House Mountains. Awesome views. Not much else.
* Maroochydore markets. Lucky dips and mango trays a go go.
* Maleny. Sustainable, hippy vibe, raw food cafe in the main street and black sapotes on sale in the co-op. Easily our fave!

Oh, and the midgie bites..? Gone. At last!

Another big one to add to the list.
Inside the belly of the Big Pineapple.
Pizza & Movie Night in the Bihary Caravan of Fun.
Picnic stop just outside Maleny, complete with playground and roos.
Benji in his new glasses checking out the Glass House Mountains.
Our first rescue operation, called to the aid of three naive young travellers who managed to get themselves bogged. The Bihary landcruiser and its hardy driver are both up to the challenge.

Cool Coolum

One day two nights in Coolum. Another coastal paradise.

Upsides: Big surf waves and lots of them (He-llooo boogie boards!). Skate park next door. Monty Python film night (and endless recitings of key sketches in the car henceforth, showing that all three children have indeed inherited their father's funny bone. "I cut down trees, I wear high heels, suspenders and a bra...")

Downsides: No-show of the Friday twilight market. Mt Coolum closed for construction work (climbing Mt Emu an inspired, but mediocre, substitute). Midgie bites even more itchy and painful and prolific.

Horsing around at Coolum Beach...
... and waiting for the waves to come in.

Happy 12th Anniversary in Noosa

November 1 sees us cruising the Noosa River on a pontoon equipped with BBQ and fishing deck, laden with storybooks and fruit, sun dial turned to high. Hardly a better way to celebrate a twelfth wedding anniversary.

It is the highlight of our two day stay in lovely Noosa, which also includes a trip to the Eumandi Markets, and repeat trips to the Tewantin chemist (to get ointment for those dastardly midgie bites from Rainbow Beach, which seem to be doubling in quantity, itchiness and ugliness by the day).

Matilda the giant kangaroo, escapee from the 1982 Commonwealth Games, now holed up just outside Noosa.
Aboard our pontoon and about to set sail.
Happy Anniversary Darren and Samantha!
Together 17 years. Married for 12.
Still madly, deeply, passionately in love? You bet!
Serious Jack gets his turn to drive.

Trick or Treat in Tewantin

There is something about being able to walk the streets in crazy costumes, knocking on the doors of complete strangers, who then stuff your bags with sugary treats, that has always held immense appeal for the three Bihary kids. The possibility of missing out on Halloween fun this year JUST BECAUSE we are miles and miles from home was never going to go down well. So it was with great relief on all our parts that we managed to locate a neighbourhood in Noosa with just enough Trick-or-Treat activity afoot to keep our little ghouls - and their sweet tooths - satisfied.

The back-up plan was to send them circling the caravan park and return after every lap to our van, where we would answer the door in a different accent and guise, and doll out the treats ourselves. Fair to say that we are all happy it did not have to come to that.

Mum hard at work applying layers of face paint.
(Two hours later she will be hard at work again, sponging it off.)
Two zombies. One witch. Ready to hit the streets.
First stop on our Trick Or Treat parade. These Tewantin locals went all out to transform their garden, garage and entry hall into a Haunted House that leaves Luna Park's Ghost Train for dust.  We only wish we could return in a month or so to see how they deck their halls out for Christmas.