From Toowoomba we headed up to Gympie to visit friends Pete and Bree (and kids Angus and Tawni) whom we had originally met in Roxby Downs a long time ago. They had recently settled in Gympie after finishing their own 18-month trip around Australia, so we spent a lot of time picking their brains for some of the best things to see and do. They had just moved into the house on their beautiful new property just out of Gympie after living in their campervan for another 6 months. Again we got roped into some weeding as we walked around the property :-) Unfortunately it was a very brief stop, but it was so great to catch up with friends that we hadn’t seen in almost 10 years!
Wildlife Disease Association conference
We back-tracked a bit down south to Maroochydore to attend the 2015 International Wildlife Disease Association (WDA conference). I almost felt like I was back in New Zealand because so many of my kiwi friends (actually mostly Aussies living in NZ) were there too. It was also a great chance to catch up with many of my friends and colleagues from zoos and wildlife hospitals across Australia and the rest of the world!
The NZ crew at WDA
Graeme helped a colleague from the UC Davis Oiled Wildlife Care Network run a full day workshop on oiled wildlife response while I attended a workshop at Australia Zoo on koala medicine.
It was a fantastic conference with so many great and inspiring presentations. Just what I needed to re-invigorate my passion for conservation medicine and wildlife disease.
Graeme’s father and his family come from Rockhampton where Graeme’s Uncle Arch and Aunt Jeanette still live. Graeme’s other Uncle, Brain and wife Fiona, have bought themselves a winter house in nearby Zilzie by the beach in order to escape the Melbourne winter.
We indulged in some relaxing activities, walked the dogs on the beach, read books and had some quality “puzzle time“. While we were kayaking in the bay one day we are pretty sure we saw a dugong!
Graeme’s cousin Scott and family have a farm on the west side of Rockhampton. Scott has become a horse trainer and has trained some of his horses to do tricks like sitting on a beanbag and lying down on a rug! Graeme and I also had our chance to ride a horse and (try to) make it do some tricks.
It was also my birthday during this time so we spent the day snorkeling and relaxing on Great Keppel Island.
Townsville and Magnetic island
I finally managed to convince my mother to come and join us for a weekend in Townsville. It was another relaxing weekend full of afternoon naps and eating delicious food. We managed to squeeze in some sightseeing as well when we finally made it up Castle Hill on our third attempt.
After saying goodbye to mum and Tyson (see next blog) at the airport we headed over to Magnetic Island. This was one beautiful island and we finally saw some wild koalas including a mum with a joey. We also caught up with a friend of a friend (who is also the friend of another friend – complicated I know!), Andes, who lives on Magnetic Island and knows far north Qld very well. He gave us heaps of great tips on where to go to see rare wildlife.
And thus ends the “staying with friends” portion of our trip. From here on in we are sleeping in our camper!