The Sunshine Coast

Brisbane sits smack in the middle of Australia’s eastern coast, and beaches spread out both to the north and to south of the city. The northern area is known as the Sunshine Coast, and we headed there as our days in Australia drew to a close. Specifically, we went to Noosa Beach, a long stretch of sand attached to a national park.

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I’m sure that there are other spots that vie for the claim, but Noosa Beach has given itself this title:

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It’s a great beach, complete with kite surfers …

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… tiny crabs that make perfectly round sand spheres …

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… and sand that squeaks!!!

While my interim semester kids jumped in the waves, I took a really long walk, much of which was spent just kicking the sand in front of me.

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From the beach, you can walk straight along a boardwalk to Noosa Beach National Park. After my beach stroll, I went over to the park with one of our guides, Pete, hoping to find wild koalas bears. But though we spent a lot of time with our necks craned up toward the trees, we never did see any any (when we asked around, one woman said that the most well-known koala in the park had died just ten days earlier). We did get to see a lot of great tall flora):

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The coastal walk is really easy, and it takes you along a beautiful rocky shoreline:

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I found flowers, too, like this glory lily (a weed, sadly) …

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… and this banksia flower:

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I also found great spiders, but I’ll save the photos of them until the end in case there are viewers out there who aren’t arachnophiles.

On our last day, we headed to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary…

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… just 6,142 kilometers from Singapore.

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We had hoped that the word “sanctuary” might mean a quiet home for rescued koalas, but instead we found a small and highly touristed zoo (where they said that the “sanctuary” in their title refers to the fact that they house only native animals).  We saw more koalas, of course…

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… and hot, sleepy dingos …

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… and hot, sleepy kangaroos:

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The highlight here was an impossible-to-photograph duck-billed platypus, probably the first one I’ve ever seen. It was amazing to watch it swim around. Otherwise, the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary seemed a little sad after our three-day visit to the Australia Zoo — there’s clearly a huge difference in funding and staffing between the two institutions.

We spent the afternoon taking an easy bike ride along and over the Brisbane River (this river, by the way, is home to both bull and hammerhead sharks).

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I enjoyed being out on a bike — in the heat and humidity we’d had all week, it was nice finally to feel a bit of a breeze.

Now for the very cool spiders of Australia (if you don’t like spiders, this is probably a good place to stop reading). I pretty much only saw orb spiders — which is good, because they’re not especially venomous (though I hear it’s still not much fun when one bites you). The golden silk-orb spider spins a golden web! If you look into the middle of the messy forest picture below, you can see the yellow silk glinting in the sunlight.

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Here’s a golden orb spider (I think) seen from the top …

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… and from the underside:

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.. and a St. Andrew’s Cross spider (an orb spider also found in Singapore):

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