Tewantin is a great spot to fan out and explore the Noosa area, so we stayed on at the Noosa Caravan Park for an extra week. I wanted to take a look at Australia Zoo (I’ve heard so much about it over the years, thanks to the fame of Steve Irwin, but never had a chance to visit) and Underwater World sounded as though it would be worth a visit.
I found the memorabilia about Steve Irwin’s life and passion interesting (especially the tributes and letters that poured in after his death), and I watched with fascination the way the handlers worked with tigers. (Not sure that I’d want a tiger resting its paws affectionately on my shoulders… what if he was having a bad day?)
However, the handlers looked very relaxed about it all! In fact, the way the staff handled animals and birds was worth seeing in all respects, whether they were feeding and watering the elephants, showing off the crocs (other beasts that I’d just as soon not get too close to!) or calling to the birds. In fact, I found the birds that went swooping and diving on demand around the “Crocoseum” more interesting than the crocodil
Australia Zoo has a very ‘manicured’ look; there are plenty of clean paths to walk along and extensive, well-kept grassed areas for resting or having a picnic. If you don’t feel like walking, the ‘Safari Shuttle’ makes it easy to get around. The layout makes it very suitable for family groups and school excursions. And speaking of school excursions… that’s one of the drawbacks for the casual visitor during the week. Since the kids (understandably) crowd around the fences and peer through the glass (at the tigers) it’s not all that easy at times to get a good view or to take photos/video. Finally, entry fees to the zoo are (in my humble opinion) on the expensive side, which you may want to take into account when planning a day’s activities.
My favourite experience at Underwater world was standing on the moving walkway while it rolled along through the aquarium. With glass holding back the water and sharks on either side and above your head, it provides a really good view of the sharks in the tank… without having to get up close and personal!
There are plenty of displays of all kinds of coral and sea creatures, and the seal performance was fun to watch (although we found the environmental message a bit heavy-handed… probably suitable for the school groups). It’s amazing watching the way the seals propel themselves up out of the water and onto a rock so effortlessly … they kind of just pour themselves out of the water! If only I could heave myself out of a pool that gracefully after doing a few laps… but regrettably, I can’t heave myself out at all. I just look for the steps.
Again, during a mid-week visit you’re likely to have school groups wandering around, and on the day we went there were a lot of mums with prams accompanying the school, so it could get a bit crowded in places.
Underwater World is right opposite Maroochy Beach Caravan Park (oddly names, we thought, since it’s at Mooloolaba!)
The Glasshouse Mountains
Since the Glasshouse Mountains are so close to Australia Zoo we combined the two in one day. The weather was quite pleasant on the day we were there, so we got a good view, and took the opportunity to go on a stroll along the 800 metre walking track that wound around the observation area at the top. The track is quite comfortable walking, and even though there had been a bit of rain the past few days, it wasn’t muddy. It’s also a pleasant place for a picnic, if you feel so inclined, with tables and BBQs.
The Dreaded Dentist
The saga of the dentist!!! Now, if this bit bores you stupid just skip it – but if (like many of us in the so-called ‘Grey Nomad’ age group) you are facing similar dilemmas about holding onto teeth (or replacing them) you may find this relevant. Rob sailed through his dental prep for The Big Trip with just a few fillings: not so for me. I had to face the gloomy fact that I needed to face some tooth extractions before we left, and then make a decision about whether to opt for a bridge or a plate. I opted for a plate, and regretted it almost immediately. I hated it… but I hadn’t left myself enough time to change my mind and switch to a bridge.
I asked around for a good dentist at Noosa just to see what my options were… and found, to my amazement, that there is dental technology that actually mills a temporary bridge (‘temporary’ meaning it’s made of resin, not porcelain, and lasts 2-3 years) in the surgery while you wait. The wonders of computerisation. I jumped on it, and within 24 hours I had fixed the problem – albeit with a severely depleted credit card.
Rain, Drains and Head Colds
RV’ers accept that part of the deal with heading off around Australia for extended periods means that you’re going to have to deal with periods of rain or otherwise lousy weather, and it’s also likely that you’re probably going to have a transient illness. Tewantin came up with both: a head cold and sore throat for me that had me croaking for a week and intermittent rain. (At least I got the dentist in first). With luck, though, this will be it… I’ll look forward to good health for the next nine months!
On one day in particular it rained steadily most of the day, and for the next few days we were trying to track down a mysterious musty smell in the van. Rob finally worked things out… but I’ll let him speak for himself:
“A friend of mine, Wayne – a very practical sort of bloke – says that if you have any sort of problem, you should go back to the basics and work from there to eliminate issues: most solutions are not that complex. So taking that advice on board, we slowly eliminated possible causes; odour from chemical toilet – nope, hidden food scraps, nope – spilled fluids – nope, dead rodent somewhere – nope. Mmmm. Then we noticed that after emptying the sink the odour intensified – but was restricted to the “wet end” of the van. Ahhh, could it have something to do with the water flow? We were on a gently sloping site, where some water could have pooled on the lower side in the drain. We flushed the pipes with hot water and a cleaning agent and that achieved some success. So we were on the right track.
A quick call then to Serge from Crusader Caravans… he suggested that we put in an “S” bend in the waste hose to help eliminate any odours that may be emanating from the sullage drain. We did that, by looping the hose back over one of the drop down support legs of the van – and bingo! the problem was solved. We have moved on to a few sites since we first encountered this problem and each time we have just put a bend in the black waste hose to help eliminate any odours coming back from the drains. Simple.”
Other Travellers at Tewantin
We enjoyed a Happy Hour one night that stretched from five o’clock until just after eight. Rob didn’t get back from Brisbane until six o’clock, and found Liz, Nigel, Marion, Wayne and me all getting a head start! Liz and Nigel (whom we first met at the Northstar Park at Hastings Point) were surprised to see our rig sitting there when they drove in, so of course we had to catch up.
Marion and Wayne are on the road permanently, and have decided to get work here and there when they can. Meanwhile, they bring in a few extra dollars on the way around with their own unique skills: Marion is handy with a sewing machine, and does clothing repairs/small jobs (she mended a tear in my jeans) whereas Wayne has had experience at fixing sewing machines and bicycles. Marion also makes bags to keep hoses and electrical cords tidy (we bought one of those, too!)They have laminated signs to put up on the car and van, and have already had quite a few customers.
Meanwhile, Marion needed a haircut… so she availed herself of the services of another entrepreneurial traveller nearby, Debbie, who had a sign on her van advertising her services as a professional hairdresser! Debbie does cuts only, but finds that the sign on her van certainly attracts customers.
We have no doubt that there are many more in the RV lifestyle who have in-demand services to offer!
On one of our last nights at Tewantin, we caught up again with Marion and Wayne for yet another happy hour (yeah, okay, we know that sometimes it seems like ‘any excuse is good enough’!) along with their neighbours Harry and Gia, who were staying a few days while awaiting repairs on their reversing camera.
The photo below shows (clockwise from Rob at the front): Rob, Wayne, Marion, Harry, Marg, Gia.
Our week at Tewantin was gone before we had time to blink, and it was time to pack up and head for Airlie Beach (where one of our sons lives) via Rockhampton and Mackay.