Susi and Austin's

Travelling the Rivers and

Canals of Europe


Interesting Times

Thursday 16 July 2020 6:52 PM

We are glad to hear that some of our boating friends are back on the water! Unfortunately, we still have a travel ban here in Australia and won’t be able to make it to Europe this year. But luckily we have a lot to keep ourselves entertained.

As mentioned before, our plan was to renovate a rental property in Brisbane. So a day after our tenants moved out we parked with our caravan in front of the house. The neighbours seeing our New South Wales number plates were suspicious and wanted to know, if we were self -isolating. 

Unfortunately, NSW was at the time the state with the most cases of Covid-19 in Australia. The reasons for the large number of infections were that Sydney is a major arrival point for tourists and also a disastrous disembarkation of infected passengers from a cruise ship at our harbour. The Australian government luckily stopped the arrival of flights from China and soon after from other countries, while returning Aussies had to go into 14 day quarantine. Restrictions for the australian population were similar as in countries around the world. They included "essential outings only", no travel unless in the line of work duties, "social distancing” and eventually closure of gyms, schools, restaurants etc. and walking for exercise with 1 other person only. 

Working on our house made one of our “essential outings" visiting Bunnings, our local hardware chain. We weren’t the only ones. The Isolation had created a flood of home renovators and to keep everyone safe, the large warehouse had transformed into an obstacle course with strict traffic control. Directional arrows were to be followed around the store. Temporary barriers were erected and security guards monitored the 1.5 m social distancing and the "4 people to an aisle" rule. Austin didn’t mind the resulting distance queueing and delays, as it gave him the chance to have a really good look around his favourite shop! 

Reno-works proceeded steadily and kept us out off mischief, Austin attending to plumbing, electrical and carpentry repairs while the unsophisticated labouring like sanding, ripping up floors, filling in holes was left to me. We actually had fun doing the work and without having any time pressure, we did quite a good job. Of course, we also recruited some local tradesmen, who, apart from talking to our newly befriended neighbours over the fence, were our only social contacts at the time.

However, once work on the house came to an end and social distancing rules had been relaxed, we started to explore some of Brisbane’s highlights and national parks (above Austin with the Bee Gees in Redcliffe). We also paid some visits and had a lovely evening on the terrace of our Brisbane boating friends Sandra and Reg and a nice reunion with Gisela and Rod in their high rise penthouse on the Gold Coast. We also saw Austin’s cousin Richard and wife Tammy who live in a beautifully restored Queenslander in Brisbane’s North with their lively brood of five.

An interesting outing was to renew Austin’s NSW drivers licence! As the boarder between NSW and Queensland was still closed, we had to apply for a special permit in order to leave and re-enter Queensland after renewing the licence at the NSW border town. The return trip, driving in step tempo along a cordoned off area with police checking permits, brought back memories of pre EU border controls.

After putting the renovated house on the market we decided to spend a few days in Noosa on the Sunshine Coast before heading back to NSW. Noosa's coastline has several excellent surfing beaches which even now, without the usual tourism, were frequented with lots surfers. Noosaville lies along the sandy Noosa river, which only flat bottom boats or skilled locals in boats with a draft below 1m can safely navigate. The area is ideal for canoeing, paddle boarding and fishing. After experiencing three months of sunshine the rains came while we were there. But it didn’t deter us from doing some beautiful walks in the National Parks. On our first walk we stopped on a rocky outcrop called Hell’s Gate and watched a mother whale and calf spouting and tail slapping just in front of us.

The Noosa hinterland with rain forest, waterfalls and quaint towns like Mapleton, Malaney and Montville has it’s own charms. The dairy Co-Op in Malany offers great cheeses and ice creams while in Montville we strangely stumbled onto a German cuckoo-clock shop. 

After shivering for 3 nights in the country towns of Killarney and Beerwah, we finally got to visit the "Australian Zoo”. A great place for little and big “kids”. Even the jurassic ancestors of the zoo animals are represented (see two of them below)! The Steve Irwin family’s zoo and adjoining hospital are still continuing the Crocodile Hunter’s mission of wildlife conservation and animal welfare. Koalas constitute the majority of patients in the hospital with whole colonies suffering from clamydia.

On our journey south towards Sydney we travelled again along the so-called Waterfalls Way in Northern NSW. 

When we stopped there in November 2019 during the devastating bushfires, the whole area was enveloped in smoke. Now the skies were clear and plenty of water cascaded down the waterfalls.


We are now back in our house in Sydney! After 15 months of living in the caravan/boat we are still getting used to having all that space! Someone suggested to use a compass!  

On our first weekend back our youngest daughter, Nina, surprised us with the announcement that she is pregnant with our 4th grandchild, and although we miss our family and friends in Europe, we are looking forward to spending extra time with our family here in Australia

Till we meet again, stay safe, stay well! 

"Fair winds and following seas until we meet again!"

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