Last week, Justin and I headed for Nightcap National Park/Whian Whian State Conservation Area.  It’s just over the state border in New South Wales, and the total drive is about an hour and a half drive from Burleigh Heads.  But, the time table is not because of the actual distance.  The path to Nightcap is one part highway, two parts scenic route.  And by scenic route, I mean roads with no shoulder and enough twists and turns to bring Chubby Checker back from the dead (he is dead, right?  If not, my bad, Chubby).  Parts of the road didn’t even have speed limits posted – just signs that said, “Drive to suit conditions.” 
To begin, we headed out of town south on the Pacific Highway toward Murwillumbah.  From Murwillumbah, we veered southeast a bit for another 30 kilometers or so toward a small town called Nimbin.  Since we weren’t 100% sure what way to go (come to think of it, we haven’t been 100% sure on much since we landed in Australia), we thought it best to ask someone and I was sure the Nimbin information center would be the spot.  Now, with half-baked directions and a visitors guide in hand, we were on our way.  Eleven kilometers to our destination.  Would Trudy, our Hyundai Accent rental car make it? 

She did.  The Nightcap National Park/Whian Whian State Conservation area is a sub-tropical rainforest.  Sure I’ve seen tropical, but I’ve never seen a rainforest, and I definitely haven’t seen anything like this place in the US.  I mean, the temperature, the fauna, the air, the ground beneath my feet, the view – it was all different.  I’m not sure how much ground we covered, but I know we didn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what this park has to offer.  I know there are camp sites in the park and maybe we’ll try that some time.  I was no Brownie and I didn’t make it Girl Scouts, so I’m still on the fence about camping.  In my mind, of course, it’s all fun and games – marshmallow roasts, singing, fishing – but in reality, I’m thinking mosquats the size of beetles, beetles the size of frogs, frogs the size of…well, you get my point.  Anywho, Nightcap National Park is definitely on our “To-do-again” list camping or not.

(Check out more new pics at our Flick page – look left for the link!)

 With the possibility of only a few more days left with Trudy, we wanted to make another day trip.  This time, to Brisbane.  Brisbane is the capital of Queensland, and quoting from my handy-dandy Fodor’s, see it – Australia guide book it’s “regularly voted as one of the world’s most liveable cities.”  One of the world’s?  Sounds pretty appealing.  The drive was a little shorter this time, just an hour or so, and unlike our last road trip, it was nothing but highway. 

Justin asked the inevitable, “Are we there yet?” and before I could reach down and grab a map, the city’s skyline appeared.  Not ever living where highrises and skyscrapers are dominant, I still get a little awestruck when I see one.  We crossed over the Captain Cook Bridge and made our way to the City Botanic Gardens.  Although much, much smaller than NYC’s Central Park, the idea is similar for the City Botanic Gardens.  Amidst a bustling city lies a little piece of neatly manicured gardens and lawns, benches and palm trees, birds and mangroves.  You know, one of those places that makes you think, Damn, if I only had a talent.  I could write a book here; or paint a picture; or play the guitar.  With no talent summoning us at the moment, Justin and I were free to make our way to the South Bank.  The South Bank was pretty cool – cafes, bougainvillea-lined pathways, there was a little market going on.  What was craziest, though, is the man-made beach right in the center of the area.  Sand, sunbathers and all – Brisbane brought the beach to their river city.  Next, we headed back toward the City Botanic Gardens, walked over to Elizabeth Street and hit up an area called Fortitude Valley.  We didn’t get to see all of the area, but what we did included a lot of pubs and alas, another mall.  Along with the usual high number of Asians, I was also pleasantly happy to see the goth kids hanging about.  It made me miss the emo kids wearing their tight jeans, high-top Converse and trendy washed-out t-shirt while sporting a haircut that is a geometric feat.     

       

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